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INTERVIEW-Hijackings push Brazilian retailer Via Varejo to overhaul logistics

SAO PAULO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Faced with a surge in cargo hijackings, Brazilian furniture and home electronics retailer Via Varejo SA has invested in security, drawn no-go zones for deliveries and beefed up in-store pickup services, its logistics chief said in an interview.

Marcelo Lopes said the company has also begun using its own trucks to stock 80 stores in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and it intends to reach all 730 stores in those states by the end of the year.

He said the logistics unit VVLog, created after the consolidation of CNova, an e-commerce unit of controlling owner Casino Guichard Perrachon SA, has reduced costs by 20 percent for in-store pickup compared to home delivery.

The logistics overhaul highlights how a rise in crime tied to Brazil's worst recession in over a century is forcing companies to reconsider even the most basic services.

From January to July, cargo theft surged nearly 26 percent in Rio and 20 percent in Sao Paulo from the same period in 2016, according to state public safety data.

"There are risk zones where we don't even deliver," Lopes told Reuters. "Starting in Rio we have developed more security resources such as escorts, systems for opening the trucks ... We don't even share certain information with partners."

Via Varejo says it still delivers to customers in 98 percent of Brazil.

"In the few places we don't deliver for public safety reasons, we offer the Quick Pickup service" in stores, he said.

Rival Magazine Luiza SA also ramped up its in-store pickup last year for online purchases. (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr.; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Paul Simao)