Happy Wednesday and welcome back to The Spin! Today we check out how Amazon settled a five-year dispute with the French tax authorities. We also explain Walmart’s plans for its newly acquired tech company, and why a whole bunch of employees at the US Federal Reserve have started turning up their collars. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Cheers, Ulrike


The row. To settle a five-year dispute with French tax authorities, Amazon has agreed to pay $250 million in back taxes. The conflict revolved around earnings the online giant generated in France between 2006 and 2010, when it declared the majority of its profits in Luxembourg. Following the publication of the Luxembourg Leaks in late 2014, Amazon decided to declare its French earnings in France and subsequently founded a subsidiary there.


Pack rat. Brands have started to bundle their hottest must-haves with a bunch of add-on items in pre-assembled “wardrobe kits”. The concept has been pioneered by subscription-based companies like The Kit, Outdoor Voices and The Wardrobe.NYC. By combining a range of goods, companies limit their inventory risk and improve economies of scale while removing much of the guess work for customers. In December, Kanye West followed by releasing the “Super Moon Yellow” Desert Rat 500 as part of a $760 “bundle pack” including a hoodie and shorts.



Enhancing the experience. To drive virtual reality at retail, Walmart’s tech incubator Store No 8 has bought the VR platform and content studio Spatialand. Spatialand’s Co-founder Kim Cooper already worked with Walmart consultant Jeremy Welt and Store No 8 on the Innov8: V-commerce program last year. Now, the team plans to develop new VR products and applications for immersive retail environments, both on- and offline.



Warning shots. Following a dismal fourth quarter, H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson looks (paywall; in German) to cut costs by renegotiating lease contracts for new and existing stores. While the Stockholm-based retailer remains picky about new locations, Persson demands (earnings call transcript) “great deals and flexible deals" for the long-term, otherwise they will not open.


Flying visit. As part of their cost cutting strategies, both H&M and Zara have started (in German) tough negotiations with landlords. Both intend to reduce rents in response to declining traffic in both city centers and shopping malls. The retailers also plan to establish new standards for lease agreements, aiming to reduce (paywall; in German) terms to three years with a unilateral option to extend or terminate by the tenant.


Glittering prize. Austrian crystal specialist Swarovski, which just opened a new store at New York’s Times Square, launched (paywall) a new #brilliance filter for the new KiraKira+ story sharing app. Japanese-based KiraKira, which translates to sparkle, allows users to create videos and photos with sparkling glitter effects.


From Hudson to S.Oliver. Kristina Szasz, has been named (paywall; in German) GM and Chief Product Officer at German fashion company S. Oliver. She takes over from Susanne Schwenger, who leaves on April 30. Szasz comes from Californian denim brand Hudson, where she served as VP of Design, and also worked as Consultant for Escada. In the past, she has been with a slew of sportswear and designer brands including Abercrombie & Fitch, Karl Lagerfeld, Nike and Ralph Lauren.


Turning it up. To honor the exiting Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York started a #PopYourCollar campaign featuring staff and fans who turned their collars up just like she had done so many times during her four-year tenure. Even incoming Fed Chief Jerome Powell posted a pic. Yellen was the first women ever to hold that position.


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