Welcome back to The Spin! In addition to a massive tech IPO, there are several news about partnerships today. As Walmart hooks up with Microsoft on cloud services, DHL and MallforAfrica collaborate on a platform for African artisan products. Over in Germany, A&F is expanding again, while Forever 21 seems to give up on the market. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Mega IPO. Tencent-backed Pinduoduo plans an IPO in the US, expecting to raise $1.6 billion. Although the Shanghai-based company is not yet profitable, the financing would value PDD at more than $20 billion. Founded by a former Google engineer, it mixes eCommerce with social media, encouraging customers to search for product and then recruit friends to buy at a group discount. It is one of the fastest growing apps in China.


Combat cloud. US retail giant Walmart has partnered with Microsoft to integrate the tech giant’s cloud-based solutions, AI and magazine learning tools into its systems. As part of the union, the two large Amazon competitors aim to facilitate Walmart’s data exchange with vendors, optimize its pricing and create new algorithms to speed up online shopping.

Out of Africa. German delivery service DHL has teamed with MallForAfrica to launch a global online platform for artisans to sell African-made apparel, jewelry and other goods. MarketPlaceAfrica is available to consumers in all 220 countries where DHL operates. MallforAfrica is a shopping app connecting African consumers with over 200 online stores, including Neiman Marcus and John Lewis.


Burning platform. As part of its streamlining, British retailer Marks & Spencer is going to eliminate 350 additional jobs. Following 470 job-cuts related to about 14 store closures, the new lay-offs affect managers. Last week, Chairman Archie Norman described the chain as a burning platform that suffers from decrepit infrastructure, weak IT, and outdated stores.

Hi, and bye. US fashion retailer A&F is expanding in Germany, planning new Hollister stores in Bremen’s Waterfront and Munich’s Riem-Arkaden malls. Meanwhile, Forever 21 prepares to leave (paywall; in German) the country altogether. Following closures in Dusseldorf, Bochum and Munich, where Hollister takes over its Riem-Arkaden store, the company is said to be looking for tenants to take over its remaining leases in Berlin and Mönchengladbach.


Fallen Angels. The US lingerie market’s move towards inclusivity is taking a toll on Victoria’s Secret and its sister brand, Pink. Names like Aerie, Love by GapBody, True&Co and Lively continue their ascent, while L Brands' labels have seen a dramatic decline in traffic, requiring high mark-downs to move any merchandise at all. On top of that, Amazon is about to roll out (paywall) its European private lingerie label Iris & Lilly in the US.


Culture cult. To build a long-term relationships with their customers, brands need to engage them with authentic stories that reflect their culture. Noteworthy examples include Patagonia with its extreme stance on national parks, Toms with its roots in charity, and Outdoor Voices with its motivational #doingthings campaign.


Mourning Anabelle Neilson. The famous model, who was believed to have been the last person to see the late Alexander McQueen alive, has passed away from a heart attack at her home in London last Thursday. Neilson was best friends with model Kate Moss and considered Alexander McQueen her soulmate and “gay husband”. She was 49 years old.


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