Safeway US enters British gift card market
Blackhawk Network, a subsidiary of US-based supermarket chain Safeway, is expanding its gift card business into the United Kingdom this year, having been set up in 2001 to serve Safeway and other retailers in North America.
To begin its entry into the United Kingdom, Blackhawk Network has already opened an office in Peterborough, which will be run by Russell Atkinson, managing director for the newly formed Blackhawk Network UK. Atkinson was previously the director of e-payments for Travelex, and is currently the chairman of the UK Electronic Money Association.
The company's launch in the United Kingdom represents its first expansion outside of North America.
Gift card offering Blackhawk Network provides a turnkey gift card solution for grocery, drug and convenience store retailers, already having partnerships in the US and Canada with many major brands, such as Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, iTunes Music Store, Pizza Hut, Starbucks Coffee, The Home Depot, and Sears.
The company also distributes prepaid debit cards from American Express, MasterCard, and Visa, and offers regional sports and entertainment gift cards (existing clients include Universal Theme Parks, Paramount's Great America, the Oakland A's, the San Francisco Giants, the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago White Sox).
Blackhawk's parent company, Safeway Inc., operates 1,770 food and drug retail stores in the United States and Canada, and reported annual sales of US$38.4 billion in 2005.