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History

Blackhawk Network GmbH is a subsidiary of Blackhawk Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAWK), one of the worldwide leading companies in the areas of prepaid products and payment. It supports the sale and distribution of gift cards, prepaid telecommunication products and financial products through a multitude of channels, including retail trade, incentives and digital channels.

Blackhawk Network GmbH was founded in Cologne in 2007 under the name Retailo AG and became a part of Blackhawk Network in December 2013, as a leading multi-channel distributor of vouchers in Europe. In September 2015 the company was re-named into Blackhawk Network GmbH.

Business Idea

The market for gift cards as the successors of paper coupons was already developing, but in those days gift cards in Germany could only be bought at the retailer or company where they would be redeemed. In the U.S., gift vouchers for different companies were already on sale through individual gift card displays so that consumers had a wide range of gift vouchers for different industries from which to choose.

Market launch

A few months after the company was founded, the Geschenkkartenwelt’s retail market launch in Germany took place in April 2008. In October 2008, Retailo AG embarked on expansion into neighboring foreign markets. As a first step Retailo’s subsidiary in Switzerland was founded in Thalwil in the canton of Zurich as a joint venture with Loyalty Services Holding AG, the leading Swiss company on the gift card market. The Geschenkkartenwelt market launch in Switzerland took place in November 2008, and since 2009, a company subsidiary has also been successfully trading in Austria.

Further development

Alongside sales of third-party gift cards in stationary trade, additional innovative areas of business were developed such as web shop offers, social media apps, and customized solutions for business customers.

In 2012, the establishment of a payment area for prepaid credit cards with the name JOKER, so that the product range now includes JOKER MasterCards as prepaid credit cards, rechargeable prepaid credit cards, an JOKER shopping card, and KINO movie gift cards. These products are bundled at www.jokerkartenwelt.de.

Today, Blackhawk Network as the leading European multi-channel gift card distributor maintains a network of over 50,000 points of sale at retail outlets such as gas stations, lottery agencies, supermarkets, drugstores, and bank branches where gift cards for over 100 brands such as Douglas, IKEA, Saturn, Zalando, and Amazon.de are sold. In addition, the company offers a separate payment area for e-money products such as rechargeable prepaid credit cards, web shop solutions, smartphone and social media apps, as well as individual solutions for business clients.

Acquisition by Blackhawk Holdings, Inc. and re-naming

In December 2013 the Retailo AG is acquired by Blackhawk Holdings, Inc as one of the leading European multi-channel gift card distributors.

December 3, 2013 – Blackhawk Network acquires German prepaid market leader RETAILO AG and thereby continues to pursue its international expansion strategy.

“Blackhawk is one of the most renowned providers in the prepaid segment and RETAILO AG’s position as the European market leader is a logical addition to Blackhawk’s special strengths in other important European markets such as the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia,” said Christian Lindner, CEO and founder of RETAILO AG. “We have always admired Blackhawk’s entrepreneurial skills and its pioneering role in the industry. The opportunity to move forward together in the future with Bill and the entire Blackhawk team is a perfect fit for our concept.”

Blackhawk Network Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAWK) is a leading prepaid payment network to promote sales of gift cards, prepaid mobile telecom products, and financial service offerings at locations all over the world. The re-naming from Retailo into Blackhawk Network GmbH became effective in September 2015. Blackhawk’s digital platform enables prepaid payments via a network of digital sales partners, including retailers, financial service providers, and “mobile wallets.” For further information visit www.blackhawknetwork.com.

Investors until December 2013
  • Wellington Partners

    Wellington PartnersWellington Partners has been one of the most successful pan-European venture capital firms. With a fund volume totaling some € 800 million and offices in London, Munich, Palo Alto and Zurich, they invest in young companies throughout Europe that have the potential to be global leaders. Their investment areas include digital media, information technology, cleantech, electronics, software and life sciences.
  • Endeavour Vision

    Endeavour VisionEndeavour Vision has since 1989 united a team of experienced venture capital professionals responsible for investments in over 70 companies in 12 countries in technology and life sciences. The firm targets European companies that have the potential to become global leaders. Beyond access to capital, Endeavour Vision brings several years of experience, expertise and network to its entrepreneurs – plus: a passion for success.
  • Seventure Partners

    Seventure Partners

    Being an active partner of companies with high growth potential, Seventure Partners has been investing in two innovative business areas since 1997: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Life Sciences (LF).

  • KfW

    The KfW is one of the leading and most experienced development banks in the world. Its main focusses are: promotion of small and medium-sized businesses and business start-ups, programmes for the housing industry, protection of the environment and educational support for private customers, financing programmes for municipalities and regional development banks, export and project financing, the promotion of developing and transition countries, loan securisation.

This post is also available in: German