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Sensormatic Buys Vue for $43M

Sensormatic Electronics, best known for its EAS systems, acquired RFID item-level software provider Vue Technology for $43 million. The deal combines hardware and software providers who are both highly focused on in-store, item-level retail applications for RFID.
Tags: Retail
Oct 09, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 9, 2008—RFID hardware provider Sensormatic Electronics of Boca Raton, Florida acquired Vue Technology, a privately held firm in Lake Forest, California that creates retail software applications based on item-level RFID tagging. Sensormatic announced the $43 million deal this week. Both firms are focused exclusively on retail store operations, and will offer integrated hardware-software solutions.

"Customers are coming to us saying 'We're a retailer, not a systems integrator. We want to work with someone who can bring all the pieces together for us,'" Sensormatic vice president and general manager Scott Clements told RFID Update. "We didn't have the software piece. We saw eight to 10 firms in that space in the market, but Vue was the perfect fit because we both have an in-store focus."

Sensormatic, which is part of $18 billion electronics and security conglomerate Tyco International, has electronic article surveillance (EAS) anti-shoplifting systems in place at thousands of retail stores worldwide, but hasn't gained much traction for its RFID offerings. Vue, a six-year-old-startup, has attained some high-profile successes for its software applications that rely on item-level tagging of merchandise to improve inventory management and replenishment. This year the firm announced major rollouts with American Apparel and a leading Portuguese bookseller (see American Apparel Going to Item-Level RFID in Stores and World's Largest Item-Level RFID Application Launches, respectively).

"As a startup, it is difficult to impossible for us to support large-scale rollouts at major retailers, especially when they go global," Vue CEO Robert Locke told RFID Update. "It was never a problem for us to get access to major retailers and our size never prevented us from winning deals, but we rely on partners for integration and support."

Acquiring Vue won't prevent Sensormatic from continuing to work with its partners, Clements said. Sensormatic provided more details about its RFID offerings and go-to-market strategy in a separate announcement.

"One of the reasons we decided to move now is that we're seeing a very significant uptick from our customers in the last six months," Clements said, citing falling equipment prices, stable standards and well-publicized success stories (including those from Vue customers) as the reasons for the surge in retail interest for item-level applications. "Historically there's been attention on item-level systems in Europe and Japan, but in the last year we've seen the activity level in North America pick up substantially."

Market research firm IDTechEx recently said the retail apparel market for RFID systems will experience 71 percent compound annual growth through 2013, and that 23 percent of users are in the U.S. (see IDTechEx: RFID Apparel Market to Grow 70% Annually).

RFID solution providers are investing to pursue the market opportunity. The Sensormatic-Vue deal nearly mirrors one made in June, when Sensormatic's longtime EAS and RFID rival Checkpoint Systems acquired RFID application provider OATSystems for $37 million. At that time, ABI Research analyst Mike Liard named Vue as an acquisition candidate in an interview with RFID Update (see RFID Industry Reaction to Checkpoint-OAT Deal, Part 2).
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