TGIF and welcome back to The Spin. Today there is major news on the German retail front and a whopping three stories about stores in India. You'll also see how Alibaba is at the forefront of AI technology and read about the latest really, really stupid decision by a fashion company to cause a PR firestorm. Have a fantastic weekend and enjoy the read! Best, Christopher


German merger. Reports say that a new joint venture between rival German department stores Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt has been agreed upon and that a letter of intent was signed on Tuesday. Signa, which owns the latter, will control 51 percent of the new entity, and reportedly will pay Kaufhof's owner, Hudson's Bay Company, over €1 billion for its stake in the business. Neither company has commented on the alleged deal.


Future financing. Future Lifestyle Fashion Ltd., one of India's largest brick-and-mortar retail companies that owns more than 60 brands, is re-entering the online space by acquiring a 29.9 percent stake in Koovs, a London-based e-tailer with a significant Indian following, for about $20 million. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval but Future Lifestyle Fashion's CEO Kishore Biyani said that he hopes it will help make the company "one of the largest fashion online retailers" in the country.

Reliance is ready... In other Indian e-commerce news, Reliance Industries Ltd, a massive Indian conglomerate, announced at its annual meeting yesterday that it will soon launch a new online omnichannel platform that will be in direct competition to companies such as Amazon and Walmart, which have recently started to grow their presence in India. The company's digital arm, Jio, will be responsible for the new creation.

...as is Shoppers Stop. Shoppers Stop, India's oldest department store chain and a rival of Future Lifestyle Fashion, is getting a business overhaul in the wake of recent executive changes. Its new managing director/CEO plans to double its private label business, start launching exclusive international brands and make over several physical stores in the months ahead. Amazon acquired a 5 percent stake in the chain last year.


Buying Bench. US investment firm Gordon Brothers announced yesterday that it has acquired Bench, the nearly 30-year-old and recently struggling streetwear brand from the UK for an undisclosed sum. The former recently and successfully relaunched retailer Wet Seal as an e-commerce only business and said it hopes to re-establish Bench's strength in Europe.

Applauding Asos. Online retailer Asos, which made headlines earlier this week by announcing Adam Crozier as its new chairman, is receiving praise on social media for offering a new tie-dye jumpsuit designed specifically for people in wheelchairs. The music-festival friendly creation was designed together with Chloe Ball-Hopkins, a wheelchair-bound BBC sports reporter and an athlete who is currently training to compete in the Paralympics.


Alibaba's AI experiment. Asian online giant Alibaba has opened a (very) temporary physical store in Hong Kong that is chockfull of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Created together with students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and stocked with clothing by Guess, the store features smart mirrors and a host of other futuristic shopping helpers. It will only be open until tomorrow.


Trimming back in Tokyo. Japanese consumer spending dropped for the fourth month in a row in May according to new data released by the government today. The 3.9 percent drop was the largest since May 2016 and cool weather was blamed for a decrease in clothing sales especially.


Hindsight is 20/20. Australian sunglasses brand Vision Eyewear publicly apologized and removed a promotional video after it was revealed that it was shot at the site of Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia were more than 83,000 people were killed during WWII. Despite the contrition several people on social media were still calling for a boycott of the brand. Duh!


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