Welcome back to The Spin! Today, we return with an update on the ongoing imbroglio between Hudson's Bay and activist investor Land & Buildings. We also explore why Amazon's recent hiring spree did not compensate for all of this year's job losses at US retail, and which British politician's dress style is considered "very Vetements". Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Ceasefire. HBC's activist shareholder, Land & Buildings, has provided (press release) a "customary standstill", planning to back off until the retail group's annual shareholder meeting in June. This allows Hudson's Bay to continue its planned share sale to Rhône Capital, close the divestiture of the Lord & Taylor flagship store in New York to shared workspace provider WeWork, and the group's ongoing transformation (paywall).


Digital drive. J. Crew, which has been named "Disappointment of the Year" by Retail Dive, is increasing its focus on digital as more stores are scheduled to close. Speedier load times have already helped the retailer raise traffic from smartphones, with wait times at checkout now 75 percent lower than just four moths ago.


I'm worth it. American consumers are spending an increasing share of their holiday budgets on themselves. US retailers are responding with an growing assortment of splurge-worthy items including sweaters, athletic wear, boots, smartphones and cookware. Of those who plan to present gifts to others, about 40 percent will give (press release) an experience rather than goods.


Movin' on up. Italian fashion group OTB, which holds international fashion brands including Diesel, Marni, Paula Cademartori and Viktor&Rolf, has assigned its CEO position to Ubaldo Minelli, effective January 1st. Minelli has been with the company for 17 years, most recently as CEO of the OTB subsidiary Staff International which holds licenses for Maison Margiela, MM6, Vivienne Westwood, Dsquared² and Just Cavalli. Minelli succeeds (in Italian) Riccardo Stilli, who is leaving the company.


Sparkling gifts. To increase the number of followers on social media, Barneys New York has launched an exclusive Barneys Unwrapped sweepstakes on Instagram for the holiday season. Currently, @barneysny counts 1.3 million followers. On the other side of the Atlantic, Austrian crystal maker Swarovski has partnered with Perfect Corp. for Augmented Reality generated smartphone filters allowing users to see how they look wearing sparkling jewelry and holiday-themed make-up.

Gardeur goes Dutch. Following tenacious negotiations, Dutch Duijndam Group has decided to take over (in German) bankrupt German pants specialist Gardeur. Firstly, Rotterdam-based Duijndam, which also holds the Mönchengladbach-based equestrian sports apparel company Euro-Star Reitmoden, wants (in Dutch) to ensure supply availability at Gardeur, followed by a repositioning and expansion of the brand nationally as well as internationally.


Rise of the machine. While Amazon has increased its headcount by 40 percent during the last twelve months, the total number of US retail workers has dropped by 170,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, the number of robots in Amazon's employ has climbed to about 100,000. Still, the number of women in the online giant's top ranks remains low (paywall) with only five females among the top 59 executives.

Hyper, hyper. Alexa Chung's revamped Villoid app is expanding into "hyper curated" shopping, allowing influencers to run their own online shops on the Villoid platform. The project launches with Chung's own webs shop and is scheduled to announce a new one every day, from luxe fashion to vintage. Villoid was founded in 2015 and has been offering an Emerge program for young designers in conjunction with the British Fashion Council since 2016.


Corbyn's contradictions. British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made it on the cover of GQ magazine. Vogue recently honored the fashion-forward politician's look as "very Vetements", but in his GQ cover shoot the former union organizer emphasized his support for regular folk by wearing a Marks & Spencer suit that retails for less than £200.


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