Spanish court reopens Neymar fraud case

first_imgHowever, prosecutors successfully argued the player and his father were aware of potentially fraudulent dealings between Barcelona and his former club Santos to the detriment of DIS, a Brazilian investment company who owned 40 percent of the player’s sporting rights at the time of the transfer.Spain’s National Court “fully overturned” Judge Jose de la Mata’s decision two months ago, allowing the case to proceed.The decision is another blow to the image of the Spanish champions and Neymar, who had hoped to bring an end to the murky affair when the club agreed to pay a 5.5-million-euro ($6.2 million) fine in a deal with prosecutors in June to settle a separate case and ensure the club avoided trial on tax-evasion charges over the transfer.Barcelona’s Brazilian forward Neymar leaving Spain’s National Court in Madrid © AFP/File / Javier Soriano“FC Barcelona expresses its disagreement with the reasoning included in this decision,” the club said in a statement.“The investigating judge, who initially had agreed to dismiss the case against all those investigated, must now reopen the case and end up holding a trial.“In the trial FC Barcelona will maintain the version of events it has always defended throughout the process and prove the innocence of all those investigated.”Neymar, 24, his father (also Neymar), Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell were all called to testify in the case in February.Barcelona originally published the fee in the transfer as 57.1 million euros, with 40 million euros of that given to the player’s family.But Spanish authorities believe the true transfer figure was at least 83 million euros because of a series of extra agreements tied to the transfer between the two clubs.Santos received just 17.1 million, 6.8 million euros of which went to DIS.DIS has claimed it was cheated of its real share firstly because part of the transfer fee was concealed by Barcelona and Santos.Moreover, DIS also believes a pre-contract agreement between Neymar and Barca impeded other clubs from making offers for the player, affecting the value of the transfer fee.– Accustomed to upheavalNeymar is far from the only Barca star to find himself embroiled in problems with the Spanish authorities.Five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and his father were given 21-month jail sentences in July for tax fraud relating to the player’s image rights.Barcelona’s football star Lionel Messi (2ndL) leaves the courthouse on June 2, 2016 in Barcelona © AFP/File / Lluis GeneMessi is appealing the verdict, but the prison sentences are likely to be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying a sentence of less than two years.“If there is one player used to dealing with different situations and one team used to dealing with different situations, it is Barcelona,” said Barca coach Luis Enrique on Friday.“All the players and their coach are used to dealing with things that have nothing to do with football.”Barca’s Argentine defender Javier Mascherano also agreed a one-year suspended sentence with authorities for tax fraud earlier this year.The off-field upheaval hasn’t affected Barca or Neymar with the signing an undoubted sporting success as he has formed one of the most fearsome strike partnerships of all-time with Messi and Luis Suarez.Barca have won back-to-back Spanish league and Cup doubles with the trio and the Champions League in 2015.Neymar signed a bumper new deal with the club to extend his contract until 2021 in July despite admitting last week he held talks with Paris Saint-Germain amidst interest from a host of top European clubs in luring him away.And he also handled the pressure of being Brazil’s poster boy for the Rio Olympics by delivering the hosts’ first ever football gold medal with a goal and winning penalty in the final against Germany last month.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Barcelona’s Brazilian forward Neymar signed for Barcelona in 2013 © AFP/File / Pedro ArmestreMADRID, Spain, Sep 23 – Barcelona superstar Neymar’s troubles with the Spanish authorities continued when a fraud case against the player and his father was reopened on Friday following a successful appeal by Spanish prosecutors, a court filing showed.In July a judge ruled that irregularities in the Brazilian’s 2013 transfer to Barcelona were detected, but said it was an issue for a civil court, not a criminal court to settle.last_img read more

QUIZ-GOERS USE THEIR BRAINS TO DO THEIR BIT FOR VICTIMS OF PHILIPPINES TYPHOON

first_imgQuiz-goers in Letterkenny put their thinking caps on tonight and raised more than a thousand euro to help victims of the Philippine Typhoon Disaster.Organiser Catherine Kelly said she was overwhelmed by the support from the community and thanked sponsors for their help in making the event at Arena 7 a success last night.She said: “It was organised at the last minute but it was great to see so many people come out. We have members of the Filipino community working in our hospitals and other areas in Donegal and it’s important to show our support for them.” A total of €1,420 was raised on the night.Mary Grace Alegarme of the Filipino Irish Society of County Donegal, was delighted with the fund-raising night.Thanking everyone, she said:”On behalf of the Filipino community in Donegal, we would like to thank you with all our hearts for all the donations and collections for the people affected by the disaster.”  QUIZ-GOERS USE THEIR BRAINS TO DO THEIR BIT FOR VICTIMS OF PHILIPPINES TYPHOON was last modified: November 15th, 2013 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:QUIZ-GOERS USE THEIR BRAINS TO DO THEIR BIT FOR VICTIMS OF PHILIPPINES TYPHOONlast_img read more

Why can’t we sign them both? Gooners slam club’s ambition as €60m deal emerges

first_imgRumours of Alexis Sanchez’s unhappiness at Arsenal are refusing to subside.An exclusive report from WhoScored.com claims the Gunners are fearful the Chile international will push for an exit in the summer and have targeted Borussia Dortmund attacker Marco Reus as his replacement.The German could cost €60m (£50.9m) to prise away from Westfalenstadion, but is the 27-year-old really the man to replace superstar Sanchez?We’ve had a look at the reaction of Gooners on social media, picking out the top comments on the possibility of this deal at the end of the season… Arsenal have been linked with Marco Reus 1last_img read more

Man United to adopt this tactic at Chelsea? Here is why it makes perfect sense

first_img1 Marouane Fellaini scores a header against Hull City Over the years, the FA Cup has made heroes out of some unlikely players and this time it could be Marouane Fellaini’s year.With Manchester United in an apparent striker crisis, Jose Mourinho may turn to the Belgian star in an attempt to outwit Antonio Conte, who he has been cajoling into mind games with little success.The Portuguese boss isn’t afraid of a curveball every now and again, and a line-leading Fellaini wouldn’t only surprise, it’s probably the most canny move he could make with a restricted hand.To add to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension for elbowing Tyrone Mings, Mourinho appears to be without Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford through injuries and illness.This leaves the Red Devils bereft of strikers but we wouldn’t bet against the Portuguese manager playing his joker to take advantage of Chelsea’s only major weak point.Aerial dominance is, perhaps the only way for Manchester United to claim victory in the FA Cup quarter-final clash at Stamford Bridge – and Fellaini is the one man you can rely on to win the headers in the absence of Ibrahimovic’s colossal presence.The 29-year-old may not be the most loved man in a red shirt but he’s won 3.1 aerial duels per game in the Premier League this season – the same as Ibrahimovic – he’s been the victor in 60 per cent of his total battles in the air, while six of his 13 goals for the club have been with his noggin.And this is where Man United can hit their foes at their weakest.This season, Conte’s Chelsea have been in fine fettle – bar a three-game blot on their copybook in September prior to their tactical shift to a back-three – thanks to their excellent organisation defensively and the unstoppable force that is N’Golo Kante.But the Blues have an Achilles heel and, with regularity, concede goals when balls are crossed into the back post, causing havoc between the wing-backs and the centre-backs.Tottenham did it not once, but twice, with Dele Alli getting in between Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta, although Danny Rose’s movement behind Moses should also be noted.Meanwhile in other matches, Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal for Liverpool in their 1-1 draw at Anfield came as they failed to deal with a deep ball to James Milner past Moses.Fernando Llorente’s shock equaliser for Swansea in Chelsea’s 3-1 win recently was a deep free-kick to the same side, which seemed to catch the defence cold.And even Etienne Capoue’s goal for Watford came as a ball was delivered – you guessed it – deep to the left side of the box where this time Branislav Ivanovic failed to deal with it.Manchester United should make this their first line of attack and should also look to get Henrikh Mkhitaryan or Juan Mata close to Fellaini and feed off his knockdowns.Conte’s attempts to remedy what appears to be an obvious fault could be to play Kurt Zouma as his right-sided centre-back and shift Cesar Azpilicueta out to wing-back with Moses dropping out, while also including Nemanja Matic in his midfield.This would ensure the Blues had the height to, at least, try and stifle Fellaini’s attempts to win the ball, but it could also unsettle them, putting a well-oiled machine off kilter.If all goes to plan for Mourinho, starting Fellaini as a striker could really be a masterstroke, and allow the Red Devils to claim victory and a spot in the FA Cup semi-finals.last_img read more

Zimbabwe: Africa’s first cashless society?

first_img“We Africans are able to build companies that can operate in the global environment,” says Econet’s Strive Masiyiwa.• Mobile phone boost to African internet • Africa’s high-tech boom boosts the continent’s competitiveness • Stalled on the Trans-Africa Highway • Entrepreneurship key to jobs for youth • Electrify Africa: bringing light to the dark continent Sulaiman PhilipZimbabwe’s GDP in 2013 was $12.8-billion; of that, $5.5-billion, or 43%, moved through Econet’s mobile banking system. Within 12 months, says Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of Zimbabwean mobile operator Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the country will become a totally cash-free society, Africa’s first.After the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy in 2002 and before the adoption of the US dollar as its legal currency in 2009 – in 2014 it adopted the Chinese yuan – a trip to the market involved carrying a box load of cash. Hyperinflation led to the country printing bills with a face value of a trillion Zimbabwe dollars, the price of a loaf of bread.“The opportunity is in the problem. The moment I see a problem, I immediately begin to think about the opportunities that can be created by trying to solve it,” Masiyiwa is fond of saying. Zimbabweans called it the “the coin problem”: because coins are expensive to produce and ship, the country faced a shortage of coins, and making a purchase add up to $1 became a national pastime – and pain.Masiyiwa believes his company will make it possible for Zimbabwe to do away with paper money, and coins, within a year. “When we went live the lowest denomination circulating was $1. If you wanted to buy a packet of sweets for your child, you couldn’t get change.” In a country where most of the population lives on less than $2 a day, a lack of change from a packet of sweets is a hardship. “Econet Wireless is a mobile payment system that allows people to save as little as a $1, and handles transactions in smaller amounts.”With the coin problem, impulse purchases became compulsory: you got a box of matches, a pen or bubble gum if your purchase was less than a dollar. Larger retailers began handing out credit slips that began circulating as currency as well. As novel as these solutions were, none were satisfactory – until Econet Wireless adapted a payment system it had developed for NGOs working in Africa.The company first developed mobile payments to help NGOs transfer money to refugees after the war in Burundi ended in 2005. “Donor agencies were trying to find ways to make cash disbursements to refugees,” explains Masiyiwa. “So we built the payment system initially not as a business but as a way to help humanitarians get money to people in rural areas who were trying to re-establish their lives.”When Burundi’s first democratically elected president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated in 1994, the tiny landlocked country descended into civil war. For 10 years battle lines were drawn along ethnic lines – Tutsi versus Hutu. It resulted in 300 000 civilian deaths and a refugee crisis. A peace accord brokered in 2001 by Nelson Mandela ended the war, but tensions in the country meant refugees refused to return home. Working in AfricaDoing business in Africa is a challenge. For Econet the biggest challenge is not gaining market share, but a customer base that struggles to keep their phones charged. “We have developed solar powered charging stations where people can go into a kiosk and charge their phone for free.”His customers are poorer than the average European, but it would be a mistake to assume their behaviour and aspirations differ, says Masiyiwa. “They want to use Facebook. They want to use WhatsApp. We have to find ways for them to access those things with their very low income. That is how we make our money.”The idea of a cashless Africa has been taking hold over the last few years. The success of Vodafone’s MPesa is testament to the need for the service on the continent. Mobile provider MTN is also aggressively moving into the space and the Nigerian government is rolling out a new national ID card that can be used as a debit card. Managed by Mastercard, Nigeria’s National Identity Smart Card has faced opposition, however, because of the large amount of information it tracks and the government’s ability to shut down access to funds.The size of the continent and the cost of building infrastructure that is so lacking, are the major challenges. Less than 30% of Africa’s population has a bank account and even fewer have credit cards; cash is king across the continent, with most economic activity conducted in the vast informal economy. In development terms, there is a lack of data to allow companies to forecast production and distribution schedules with any degree of accuracy, hampering development.Econet, MPesa and MTN Money have managed to succeed in this environment by giving customers financial services products on their mobile platforms. Growth has accelerated since 2012: in at least nine African countries there are more mobile money account holders than there are bank clients. Help for unbanked majorityMTN has introduced automatic cash machines that allow customers to withdraw cash from their accounts without a card. MTN provides a one-time pin on their phone for each transaction. Other innovations being tested allow customers to receive money from abroad, obtain micro loans and buy insurance. Cash-light economies are allowing the unbanked majority to enjoy the benefits of the financial markets, such as access to credit, for example. There is also very little confidence in traditional banks across the continent.This market, Masiyiwa contends, has to be treated in the same way that companies market to customers with means, bearing in mind that services need to be designed that are practical, affordable and simple to use. “I’ve got a customer who has a dollar in his pocket and has got to decide to have some lunch, call his cousin or go to the doctor. We have to develop services with sensitivity to the fact that in Africa our customers don’t have the same disposable income as in New Zealand, for example.”The son of an entrepreneurial mother who sent Masiyiwa to school in Scotland and university in Wales, he returned to newly independent Zimbabwe to work for the state’s telecommunications company before starting Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in the 1990s. He was also, until it was shuttered by the Zimbabwean government in 2003, publisher of the independent Daily News.Masiyiwa sits on advisory boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations. He uses social media – he has 350 000 followers on Facebook – to encourage entrepreneurship among young Africans.A recent Forbes estimate put Masiyiwa’s personal fortune at $600-million. The foundation of his wealth – he is the wealthiest Zimbabwean but lives in Europe – is the founding of Econet Wireless in 1998. In starting up, he went to court six times to win a licence from Zimbabwe’s national telecommunications company. The judge who eventually granted the licence was disparaging, saying that 70% of the population had never heard a telephone ring.“Today, 75% of people in Zimbabwe have a cellphone. And I want 75% of the people in Africa to have a bank account… on a mobile phone.”last_img read more

Are Gender Issues in the Workplace Still Maddening?

first_imgPutting the show aside for the moment, the issues that Peggy and Joan face are still too common in corporate America.  Micro-inequities and micro-aggressions are not a remnant of the MadMen days! Follow me on Twitter at:  Jonathan__HR__LawTHIS BLOG SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE, AS PERTAINING TO SPECIFIC FACTUAL SITUATIONS OR ESTABLISHING AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. And Peggy, who broke through the glass ceiling initially at Sterling Cooper,  is both smart and strong.  Those who underestimate her do so at their peril. Don remains on paid leave.  He visits Megan in California and then returns home to NY. In his absence from the workplace, much of the focus was on Peggy and Joan.  Both worked incredibly hard on client retention and satisfaction but each was marginalized in ways that too many women still are today. At the end of the episode, Peggy was so frustrated with work, and perhaps, life, that she broke down emotionally at home.Don broke down emotionally at the end, too.  But he did not emote.  Instead, only partially clothed, he sat on the balcony of his NY apartment in the frigid cold. When Peggy tried to improve a pitch for Accutron, her ideas were dismissed by her new boss, Lou Avery.  Rather than focusing on her content, he said:  “I’m immune to your charms.” Hard to imagine him saying that to a man!  It was not just what he said. It was how he did it.center_img How different their reactions.  But equally intense I suspect were there inner feelings. Joan fought hard to rescue a small but important account, Butler Footware. But instead of being thanked by the account executive, Ken Cosgrove, he told her only to stay out of his office. At the same time, fortunately, there is less gender bias today than there was 40 years ago.  We have come a long way but we still have long way to go!Cannot wait until next Sunday!  Blog to follow‼ It is only a matter of time before Don returns to work.  With his growing and painful self-awareness (“She [Megan] knows I am a terrible husband”), I don’t think we can anticipate a seamless return.   Joan had left an earring in his office when trying, on the phone, to save the client.  When he threw the earring at her, the boys’ club message could not have been clearer. Last night was, according to @DonDraper_NY, the “beginning of the end.”  And, what a beginning it was.last_img read more

How GUESS? Turned LP into a Mission-Critical Business Operation

first_imgShoplifters’ Destination of ChoiceFrom Aruba to Venezuela, the GUESS?™ brand is ubiquitous. Known globally for its innovative, highly visual design sense…and for launching the careers of super models Claudia Schiffer,Naomi Campbell, and Anna Nicole Smith…hundreds of department stores and exclusive shops through out Europe, Asia, and South America feature GUESS? apparel, accessories, and other products. GUESS? Inc. also directly owns and operates over 271 stores in the United States and Canada. The GUESS? brand is all about adding surprise and sparkle design touches to such common items as jeans, shirts, and sunglasses—transforming the common to suave and sultry.As a high-profile member of the upper echelon specialty segment of the retail industry, GUESS? is a destination of choice for style-conscious shoppers,shop lifters, and, of course, professional thieves. “Organized gangs routinely target us for grab and runs, where they come into the store and just carry out a table full of merchandise,” explains Joe Toth, vice president of loss prevention for GUESS? Inc. “There are also the professional teams that work the store,systematically going after high-value,high-demand leathers or jeans,” That Toth seems rather matter-of-fact about his stores being a prime target for thieves belies the fact that since he became GUESS?’s chief loss prevention and security officer in 2001, shrink at GUESS? has declined by seventy percent, placing GUESS? among the best shrink performers in its retail segment. Not surprisingly, Toth and his small, closely knit loss prevention team are well-known and well-respected within the company. This was certainly not always the case. As Toth admits, “Loss prevention was not always positioned within GUESS? to be successful. We had to re engineer both the loss prevention program and the loss prevention mindset in order to be successful.”The story of the GUESS? loss prevention turn-around and rebuilding is a case study in organizational transformation, bridge-building, and professional expertise at its best.- Sponsor – Disconnections, Barriers…and Scrambling CockroachesJoe Toth joined GUESS? in 1997 a sone of two regional managers of LP reporting to a newly hired loss prevention vice president, who reported to the company president. At that time GUESS? was operating 120 stores in the U.S. and annual shrink was a very serious business issue. The good news, of course,was that GUESS? executive management recognized this and made a visible investment in getting it under control. At first, the retail group was interested in LP because they were looking for any help they could get. The problem was that the LP program was reactive and worked independently of store operations. There was some initial improvement, but as buy-infaded and sales slipped, shrink age crept backup. LP was never able to engage the stores to do what was needed to resolve their problems.In early 2000, Toth was asked to become director of investigations and to handle internal theft cases. Through out that year and with no staff or budget to launch an all-out attack on thefts across the country,Toth took a huge number of admission statements from dishonest employees.“Unfortunately, it had no net affect on the  shrinkage,” says Toth, “because we still weren’t addressing the under lying problems. The approach was reactive and there was just no strategic plan to reduce the losses. It was like killing cockroaches in the middle of the night.”However, like the retail industry itself,change was and is relentless at GUESS?.In 2001, as the company added stores, it also reorganized. The company president left and a bit later so did the loss prevention VP. In August 2001, Toth was asked to head up loss prevention.Toth accepted, but insisted he report to the vice president of stores. “This was essential,” says Toth. “To position loss prevention…and myself…to succeed, I needed to be strongly connected to store operations. Field support wascrucial to shrinkage reduction. And by being under this umbrella, it also assured me the store managers would be accountable for the results.”That was then. The actions Toth took to position and strengthen GUESS?’s loss prevention program reflect an essential combination of political savvy, interpersonal skills, and both professional discipline and loss prevention expertise. Today, GUESS?’ soperations and Toth’s responsibilities include GUESS? stores in the U.S. and Canada in six regions, with a loss prevention manager assigned to each region. Shrink levels have never been lower.So what is behind this dramatic turn around.“Our problem with employee theft was huge. Well over half of our shrink was internal,” says Toth. “Even though our store managers knew this, many of them were young and did not ‘get’ loss prevention. So we decided direct intervention was necessary. We conducted a full-scale investigation and training session in every store. We started with the high-shrink stores and slowly fanned out to the entire company.I insisted that district sales managers travel with their regional loss prevention manager to participate in these investigations. This opened their eyes to what was happening in their stores and created immediate buy-in. Our goal was to remove problematic employees proactively and provide a blue print for store managers to reduce their losses.”The fast-start aggressive approach paid off. In the first full year, GUESS? dramatically reduced internal losses and incident sizes. At that point, executiveprepared to move forward aggressively,their shrink situation would never improve,” recalls Toth. “We met with focus groups of store and district managers to hear their concerns and feelings about loss prevention. I then put together a detailed plan of annual goals and initiatives and sold it to both corporate and the field. That meant every one knew what we were going to do and in what order we were going to do it. It is a process I repeat every year.We re-evaluate our strategy, propose new goals and initiatives, and then solicit feedback from the retail group before submitting a new budget. This has truly become a collaborative effort and the retail team has been a great partner.”As Toth won regional and store management buy-in, he and his team launched phase one of the company’s new loss prevention strategy.The Business “Face” of Loss PreventionAccording to Toth, the previous LP program was reactive and “old school” in its approach. It lost operational support because it was content to just go through the motions and to “put out the fires.” There was no strategic planning,no prioritized agenda, and no investment for the future. When shrinkage did not decrease, store management lost faith in the program. It was hopeless after that. “My first priority in the new job was to convince the retail group that unless we were all on the same page and management really bought into the program and supported Toth in every way possible. “Once they saw what I was trying to do and the potential ROI, they approved everything I asked for.”Toth strongly believes a successful LP director must have the ear of executive management. “The VP of stores, Vince Dell’ osa,the president and COO Carlos Alberini, and especially Paul Marciano deserve a lot of the credit because they have been strong supporters and are truly committed to shrinkage reduction,” says Toth. “This is certainly not the case in every company. A lot of executives pay lip service to loss prevention issues, but not at GUESS?.” “Engrained in the Business”—Tightening LP Spend and Changing the MindsetSimultaneously with the attack on internal theft, Toth and his team systematically looked at what each store was doing and spending on loss prevention and security. They found a lot of un coordinated spending and little tracking of results. Toth looked at the existing national and local suppliers of every thing from alarms and merchandise tagging sensors to armored cars and security officers.“We added up everything we were spending and what we were getting and saw a huge opportunity to tighten-up our program,” he says. “We started re negotiating every contract…and got better terms in nearly every case. We found sloppy practices between us and our vendors. Store spending was just out of control.”Some stores had huge stock piles of sensor tags and were getting charged for numerous false alarms because of employee carelessness. Other stores that were spending heavily on security officers still had some of the worst shrink.“So clearly there was room for improving our thinking and our practices at the store level,” Toth explains. “The plan was to get our financial house in order and identify savings that could later be re invested without additional expense. I knew we would have to purchase new technologies and equipment, and we do not spend recklessly. We made a strong case based on expected ROIs and executive management approved nearly all of our budgetary needs. At times, they have been even more aggressive than I have.”At the same time Toth added discipline to GUESS?’s supplier interactions and spending, he addressed the more fundamental issue of getting store managers on the same page about loss prevention. GUESS? was growing fast. Young, hip store managers and merchandise personnel tuned-in to the hot fashion scene were coming on board. Unfortunately, loss prevention was not part of their mind set and was at the bottom of their to-do list.“The most significant, conscious change we made was to develop a new mindset and new vocabulary for loss prevention,” he says. “Most employees thought of LP duties as additional things to do on top of their already hectic job responsibilities. Consequently, they never found enough time  to focus on LP issues…and shrink age suffered.“So, we integrated our message into an over all business approach that centered around providing premium customer service. We used business concepts, such as improving profit contribution, to talk about ways to reduce shrink. We talked about making loss prevention a consideration in where and how merchandise is displayed. All of this allowed us to link loss prevention with top-line sales growth. Improving customer service was our approach to getting managers and staff to interact better with shoppers. In turn, this has made it more difficult for shop lifters to grab and conceal merchandise.”All store employees went through training that included spotting the behavioral signs of shoplifters. Processes were put in place that required sales associates to work the front of the store in order to greet new customers and prevent grab-and-run incidents.Finally, the GUESS? hiring process was strengthened to include a personality assessment that included LP questioning and integrity tests along with a comprehensive background check and credit history.Building loss prevention into GUESS?’s management thinking was also a priority. For example, compensation and rewards for store management was a tool Toth championed. At his urging,GUESS? increased its biannual shrink bonus to store managers and expanded it to include assistant managers, visual managers, and others.Also, loss prevention now plays a major role in every district, regional, and global management conference. Toth says these are occasions when he and his team can reinforce LP values, tweak current strategies, and participate in field management succession planning.Upgrading Technology in theLoss Prevention FrameworkWhat about the financial savings Toth achieved by renegotiating supplier contracts and tightening spending processes? “We reduced loss prevention and security spending by 50 percent without cutting services,” he says. “I knew we had a huge challenge a head of us to upgrade our existing technologies,and these savings allowed us to get started without waiting for budgetary approval. For example, we were having a big problem with defeated sensors because we were using an old sensor technology. Tools to break the sensors  were readily available. Without a new technology, our entire LP frame work was vulnerable.”GUESS? was growing fast. Young, hip store managers and merchandise personnel tuned-in to the hot fashion scene were coming on board. Unfortunately, loss prevention was not part of their mindset and was at the bottom of their to-do list.Toth and his team went into the sensor market place to investigate alternative solutions to the old technology. After much consideration,the team selected a young and innovative EAS and CCTV company based in North Hollywood, California. “Their product line has a unique design and much larger footprint than the tags we were using.We met some initial resistance from the store managers, but that changed when they saw the new tags were much more difficult to remove. Plus, they also turned out to be significantly cheaper,”Toth says.In late 2001, we conducted a five-store trial during the Christmas shopping season. The results were…and still are…eye catching. Defeated sensor losses dropped dramatically in stores using the tags. Today, almost three-quarters of GUESS? stores have standardized with this equipment, and GUESS? shrink has declined each successive six-month period since.What to Attack? Where to Go?Data-Driven Loss PreventionJoe Toth will tell you that even though the saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has been around a long time, it nevertheless is a powerful and relevant proposition. As GUESS? has steadily expanded throughout NorthAmerica through the opening of new stores and acquisition of licensee-owned stores, the challenge of managing GUESS?’s shrink number down ward has intensified.“As shrink gets lower, there’s less room for error,” says Toth. “Once you eliminate the big cases and put effective defenses in place…all the obvious things…much more detailed approaches and lots of analysis are required.”Loss prevention at GUESS? is conspicuously data-driven. Toth conducts quarterly LP team strategy summits at which his team looks at progress made on annual loss prevention, security, and safety goals.Setting more specific objectives for the upcoming quarter requires detailed analysis of each store in each region,looking for emerging problem trend lines. These team summits are also invaluable for team-building and comparing situations and solutionsOne approach GUESS? regional sales directors and Toth’s team developed is their “Touch Base” process. “These two groups have to be strong partners to be successful, so we invest a lot in these relationships.” Toth explains that the two groups are required to touch base weekly and schedule additional face timeeach month. They also travel together quarterly and must coordinate their schedules to ensure problem stores are addressed with a unified agenda. Each month, they prepare two lists of problematic stores. One list includes stores whose sales are off plan or that have higher-than-expected turnover. The other lists stores with higher than planned shrink. They pay special attention to stores that overlap—and plan special visits. Toth says this process keeps the two departments on the same page, strengthens their relationship, and applies the expertise and perspective of each party to identify high-risk situations before they get out-of-hand.One approach GUESS? regional sales directors and Toth’s team developed is their “Touch Base” process. “These two groups have to be strong partners to be successful, so we invest a lot in these relationships.” Toth explains that the two groups are required to touch base weekly and schedule additional face time each month. They also travel together quarterly and must coordinate their schedules to ensure problem stores are addressed with a unified agenda. Each month, they prepare two lists of problematic stores. One list includes stores whose sales are off plan or that have higher-than-expected turnover. The other lists stores with higher than planned shrink. They pay special attention to stores that over lap—and plan special visits. Toth says this process keeps the two departments on the same page, strengthens their relationship, and applies the expertise and perspective of each party to identify high-risk situations before they get out-of-hand.GUESS? has also invested in exception-based point-of-service data analytics. Using software from Cleveland based Datavantage, Toth and his team set transaction exception parameters.Problematic transactions are logged and automatic alerts are sent to all levels of field management.“We’ve tiered our alert system so that high exceptions trigger an instant warning and response, while sporadic problematic transactions get looked at on a more systematic basis,” Toth explains. A full-time data analyst develops trend lines for each store and region and those become the basis for proactive measures—from additional employee training to investigations.Global, Connected, CollaborativeGUESS?  today is a publicly-owned company whose shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange. However, visiting any GUESS? store in the United States or Canada confirms that GUESS?’s design soul and over all “attitude” is continental… or, more accurately,inter continental.Toth makes an interesting observation. “The retail industry has been changing for decades…especially in going global with product design and merchandising…with everybody borrowing ideas from everybody else.Loss prevention, especially in the United States, has pretty much kept ago-it-alone mentality. Everybody has guarded their own approaches and especially their data. That’s now starting to change…finallyTo the point, Toth and GUESS? are active in the Retail Industry Leaders Association (formerly IMRA) and in the specialty group of the National Retail Federation. They participate in research and bench marking projects related to identifying best practices and tracking important industry trends.Breaking the CodeLoss prevention’s success at GUESS? is all about delivering a quality program with considerable inter personal and political finesse. It’s about the internal selling of good ideas to good operations professionals who “don’t know what they don’t know” about loss prevention.Aligning the loss prevention effort along business lines and talking about it in business terms eliminates the barriers and old mindsets. So it’s probably a given that each year’s aggressive shrinkr eduction goal is explained in terms of what impact it would have on the bottom line of each of the 271 stores in the GUESS? world.MICHAEL STUGRIN is a business writer and consultant based in Long Beach, CA, and can be reached atmstugrin@earthlink.net.JOE TOTH, an 18-year loss prevention professional, is based in New York City, and can be reachedat josetoth@guess.com. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

Indian contingent settling into the Olympic Village in Rio

first_imgRio de Janeiro, Jul 29 (PTI) With the much-awaited Olympic Games getting underway next week, the Indian contingent members have begun trickling into the Olympic Village here. The Games will begin on August 5 and almost half of the Indian contingent is already here and the two Hockey teams are expected to arrive this evening. “Its great to get to the Village and get used to the facilities,” said Rakesh Gupta, Chef de Mission of the Indian contingent. “It is a long journey to Rio and it is important that our boys and girls get here well in advance to get acclimatized.” The official Welcome Ceremony of the Indian team will be held in the afternoon on August 2. All teams are given specific slots and a brief but elegant ceremony is held to officially welcome them into the Olympic Village, even though they have been staying in it for a few days. “The Welcome ceremony is an official function and the Indian tricolor as also the national anthem will be played. It is also a team bonding exercise in a way,” said Gupta. “The athletes are also getting to know their teammates from different disciplines. Throughout the season, they meet players from the same sport, but here they get a great chance to mingle with others, both national and international. Thats what makes Olympic so unique.” The archery team was the first to arrive in Rio and others include athletics team, boxers and shooters. Joining the other shooters who arrived a couple of days earlier, was 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Gagan Narang. He was accompanied by Chain Singh. “We are coming from Switzerland and it has been a long journey. It is always nice to get to an Olympic Games and the focus is now on the event,” said the experienced Narang as Chain nodded on. The Hockey teams were expected later in the day. The Indian contingent members have been getting used to the Village and the various activities here. Many of the athletes after training were entertaining themselves at the Village Plaza and the Virtual Reality set up here. Set amidst mountains in Barra in Rio, the Olympic Village has 31 Buildings, which will house nearly 15,000 athletes and officials. It is a mini city by itself and has virtually every facility including gyms, Polyclinics, entertainment centres, a huge dinning Hall, with food from every part of the world. All the residential buildings have been provided with Wifi and internet facilities. PTI Cor ATK ATKadvertisementlast_img read more

New Donor Prospecting 101

first_imgIn one of my earlier posts, I suggested that it’s best to focus fundraising efforts on strengthening relationships with an organization’s current supporters. New research shows that getting new donors:is expensive. Acquisition costs can be anywhere from $.25-$1.50 to raise $1;has a very low ROI of $1.00;does not guarantee more than one gift. Only 23% of first-time donors ever give a second gift.While I still believe focusing on your current donors offers the best return on investment, it’s also important not to put all of your fundraising eggs in that basket. Why? Because donors are not eternal. They move. They tighten their giving budgets. They change their philanthropic priorities. You want as many people as possible to share your successes and be inspired by opportunities for investment.  This is why it’s important to think about how to build your pipeline of future supporters.I wish I could hand you a list of your next big donors. What I can offer you is an approach that focuses on two key elements:WhoHowLet’s start with the who.Your Inner CircleThe first place to look for new donors is your inner circles of volunteers and supporters. These individuals already believe in you, and they want to see you succeed. Their personal networks are an invaluable source for finding new donors.Organize one-on-one meetings with these supporters where you can brainstorm potential donors. If individuals are hesitant to share a list of names, ask them to host a small reception or dinner where attendees can learn more about the organization. Let them drive the level of initial interaction you have with their friends and peers. Ask them how involved they want to remain in the process. This approach reinforces that you respect their willingness to open their relationships to you.Followers and Peer-to Peer FundraisersFrom e-newsletter subscribers to Twitter followers, potential donors often “raise their hand” to show their interest in your work. Ensure that these subscribers and followers are included in your fundraising outreach.If your organization uses peer-to-peer fundraising, look at your fundraising volunteers. You want to invite these people to stay involved in your mission, and you may be able to determine who has potential for greater giving.Event AttendeesI don’t think I’ve encountered an organization that doesn’t have some sort of annual fundraising event.  Chances are, people that attend those events are either one-time donors or limit their annual support to that particular fundraiser. And, believe me, I understand the challenge to “convert” event attendees into sustaining donors. This is where post-event communication is critical.  Keep all event invitees and attendees on your mailing lists and don’t hesitate to ask them for a gift at some other point during the year.Want to grow your middle to major donor pipeline? Draw up a short list of attendees and even invitees who didn’t attend your fundraiser and try to schedule meetings with them. You can find out what drives their interest in your organization and more important, what would inspire them to show more financial support.Another model I find effective is holding one or two cultivation events to introduce your audience to your work.  These can be tailored to lapsed donors, nondonors who are in your database, or specific donors list created by your Board and other volunteers. These events can bring your work to life and highlight how the concrete ways their support can make a difference.Like-Minded DonorsFinally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t state the obvious source of rented lists and comparisons with donor lists of peer organizations.  These individuals are the least connected to your organization and just because they may support another organization with a similar mission doesn’t mean they’ll support you. I only suggest this option as a last resort.Now, the how.Donors are the lifeblood of every organization.  So, when you are looking for new donors, how do you position your case for support? The answer is showing people how their gift can make a difference in your work.It’s also integral to find out the best medium for sharing that information. For older donors, printed materials may be best. Young donors prefer social media outreach and electronic communication. Whatever the mode, focus on using sharing information that will bring them closer to your work.Did you know that on  average many organizations are losing almost 60% of their donors each year? Talk about depressing!Do you remember that Seinfeld episode when Jerry made a car rental reservation which the rental company couldn’t seem to keep? When told they had run out of cars, Jerry said: “You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.”It’s the same things with new donors. The key to your getting new donors isn’t just getting them. It’s retaining them.  The first gift is an opportunity for celebrating, relationship building, and stewardship that can make that gift one of many.last_img read more