Jan
 03
 2018



Ulrike

Hello,

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to The Spin! Today we examine the next round of US store closures projected for 2018. As retail employees fear for their jobs, AI enabled robots continue their ascend. Then there is the planned shut down of German sportswear brand Naketano, which has been amusing fans with cheeky product names like Genital Alarm. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Cheers, Ulrike



retail

The carnage continues. This year, more than 12,000 US stores are expected to close, potentially pushing hundreds of shopping centers to the brink of extinction. Following 2017's flood of retail bankruptcies, about 15 additional names are expected to file for Chapter 11 protection during the next twelve months, among them Bebe, Bon-Ton, Destination Maternity, Sears, Stein Mart and Vince.


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Breturn. To increase the focus on its home market, British retailer Marks & Spencer has sold 27 stores in Hong Kong and Macau to its long-time franchisee, Al-Futtaim. Following the sale, the Dubai-based group will operate 72 M&S stores in Asia and the Middle East. As part of its restructuring, M&S has already closed 53 unprofitable stores in ten foreign markets including China, France and Belgium.





tech

Better bots. Each month, over one billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses on Facebook Messenger alone. The increasing number of interactions has given rise to AI supported robots, which have been getting faster, more consistent and precise in meeting and even anticipating customer needs. Although experts still prefer a combination of people and machines, bots might soon outdo humans at customer support.





markets

South of the border. While US President Donald Trump promotes a border wall with Mexico, retail giants Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba are making significant investments to increase their share in Mexico's growing eCommerce. Amazon aims to triple its distribution space with a new warehouse near Mexico City, and Walmart is building new eCommerce fulfillment centers. In the meantime, Alibaba has been working with the Mexican government to sell (press release) Mexican products on its platforms in China.



Bye to the bag. On January 1, Montreal implemented a city-wide ban on thin plastic bags, making it the first major Canadian city to do so. Toronto contemplated a similar ban in 2012 but decided against it. Montreal's retailers have a six-month grace period to comply; starting in June fines are going to be imposed. In July, Victoria will follow suit, and Vancouver is also mulling the issue.





brands

Rumor mill. Last week, Nike fueled ongoing speculation about the transfer of Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to FC Barcelona: In an ad for Barcelona apparel, the US sports giant used the slogan "Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou". Coutinho reportedly already reached an agreement with Barcelona, but Liverpool recently rejected the FC's £119 million offer for the soccer player. So far, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has been laughing off the matter.



Sportive Pussy. German sportswear label Naketano will shut down (in German) by the end of 2018. The announcement came unexpectedly, and no reason has been disclosed. Naketano was founded in 2005 and quickly developed into a cash cow for German multi-label retailers. The company, which is known (in German) for cheeky product names, plans to shutter operations including its web shop on December 31.





last

Magic weapon. In tandem with some of the most coveted names, New York-based fitness club Equinox has created seven must-have items for its Commitment Collection (video) including a scrubs-inspired sweatsuit by Off-White and an "Eau de Blood, Sweat & Tears" perfume that includes the DNA of runner Katherine Switzer. But the "Buy Now" button on the website does not lead to an online shop but to a "commitment" page where users can donate to various charities. Some of the items will later be sold at auction.







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