Happy Wednesday and welcome to today's edition of The Spin. There's lots of retail-related news today whether it's about Hudson's Bay Europe and its big business deal, Alibaba advancing in Russia or another first for Amazon. Meanwhile, a pair of new creative directors is putting their unique marks on the famous fashion brands they recently joined. Enjoy the read and feel free to share it. Best, Christopher


Big deal. Everyone said it was coming and now it's official: Hudson's Bay Europe, the owner of Germany's Galerie Kaufhof, has entered into a merger agreement with rival Signa Retail Holding, owner of Karstadt, to form a strategic partnership in Europe. HBC Europe's retail operations will merge with Signa's Karstadt Warenhaus GmbH, and HBC will have a 49.99% interest in the combined businesses. Signa will acquire half of HBC's German real estate and a 50-50 joint venture will be launched to own and manage them. HBC will earn $616 million from the deal, which it will use to reduce its debt. The new creation will be Europe's third largest department store chain, behind El Corte Ingles and Marks and Spencer.


And another big deal. Chinese online giant Alibaba has signed a joint venture agreement with three Russian partners to create a new e-commerce platform in Russia. The newly minted entity, called AliExpress Russia, will be worth about $2 billion and Alibaba will hold a 48 percent stake in it. The deal will undoubtedly boost online sales in Russia, where as of two years ago just 20 percent of the population shopped online.


Down & out Down Under. Struggling Australian department store Myer continues to be a one-stop shop for bad news. The company announced a net loss of nearly half a billion dollars (AU$486 million) for fiscal year 2018, a huge drop compared to the $11.9 million in profit it reported for 2017. Its majority shareholder, billionaire Solomon Lew, said the performance was disgraceful and called for the resignation of chairman Garry Hounsell.

Visual dismay. A window display showcasing Balenciaga sneakers and hoodies at Selfridges in London has been harshly criticized by some for allegedly glamorizing homelessness. Created by Mark Jenkins, it features slumped over mannequins who appear to be sleeping on the ground or against walls. Meant to evoke people sleeping an airport, it has been misinterpreted said the retailer, which along with Balenciaga issued an apology (paywall) for inadvertently causing offense.

Best foot forward. As if yesterday's news that it will overtake Walmart as the top seller of apparel in the US this year wasn't enough, Amazon has hit another #1 mark. The online giant has beaten out both Nike and Adidas as the retailer of choice for men's footwear among American guys ages 13 to 34. Both sneaker behemoths have recently teamed with Amazon to sell selected styles.


Jones in Japan. Dior Homme will become the first major menswear label to stage a pre or resort fashion show when it presents its pre-fall collection on the runway in Tokyo on November 30. Creative director Kim Jones made the announcement yesterday. To complement the spectacle, the brand will open a pop-up in department store Isetan selling the summer 2019 capsule collection, the first one Jones designed for the label after coming aboard earlier this year.

In the midst of a makeover. As his recently unveiled accent-less new logo continues to get mixed reactions, creative director Hedi Slimane is apparently far from finished making serious changes at Celine (fka Céline) prior to showing his debut collection for the brand at the next Paris Fashion Week. In what seems to hint at a forthcoming total website redesign, the brand has stopped selling directly online and now features a black-and-white video in place of its nine-month-old web shop.


Festive forecast. Prognosticators and retailers in India are predicting double-digit sales growth this year during that nation's annual festive season, which starts next month. The period will also be the first big showdown between online rivals Flipkart and Amazon in India, which should see about 20 million people shopping online this year.


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