Oct
 09
 2018



Caroline

Hello,

Welcome back to a new edition of The Spin. We are beginning the week with an eye on financial matters. British retailer French Connection is looking for a buyer. Truly French Carven found one, Chinese Icicle is the front runner to buy the company out of bankruptcy. Still on the same front, Mattress Firm is filing for chapter 11. Life in retail has a lot of ups and downs...which shouldn't obscure the good news. Jil Sander has found a new CEO and United Colors of Benetton has recruited Jean Charles de Castelbajac as its new artistic director. Enjoy the read. Cheers, Caroline.



markets

For sale. British retailer French Connection could be sold. The founder Stephen Marks, owner of 42% of the company, is in the early stages of looking for a buyer. That news lifted the share value as much as 45% on the stock exchange. Nevertheless French Connection is far from the price it could have gotten in 2004, when the retailer was at its peak. French Connection has lost (paywall) market share to Zara, Primark, Amazon, Asos...but the company vows that it will return (paywall) to profitability, later this year.


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Chinese rescue. The Chinese Icicle Fashion group is the front runner to buy (paywall) the French label Carven. The company, which filed for bankruptcy in May has been courted by several firms but Icicle seems to be the preferred suitor. The French court will issue its ruling on October 12. Icicle is famous in China for its 100 boutiques and its eco-friendly lines. Carven would give (paywall, in French) the group a place on the international stage, beginning in France.



In a box. Mattress Firm, the largest mattress retailer in America with more than 3200 stores, is going bankrupt. The company, owned by Steinhoff International plans to close as much as 700 locations. Mattress Firm is the victim of declining sales, caused by too many stores, an accounting mess at Steinhoff International and the rise of bed-in-a-box online retailers. Meanwhile Casper, Tuft and Needle, and brand new AmazonBasics Mattress are happily shipping directly to customers.





people

Insider job. Jil Sander went in house to find (paywall) its new CEO, Axel Keller. The Balenciaga executive joined Jil Sander in February as commercial director. He is replacing Alessandra Bettari who, in turn, is taking up a new position at Japanese parent company Onward Luxury Group. Keller's road map: expanding Jil Sander through corners at luxury department stores and its own stores. The company operates 11 boutiques in Japan, Germany, France, America...and plans to open at Moscow in 2019.



Nonnos United. Luciano Benetton, back into the driver's seat of United Colors of Benetton, has decided (paywall) that he needed a well known designer to relaunch the brand. Thus French Jean Charles de Castelbajac just got promoted to be artistic director of Benetton. The creator who had left his eponymous brand in 2016 says that he has a lot in common with the Italian company: a passion for knitwear and the love of rainbow colors at affordable prices. Expect the first full fledged collection in spring 2020.





tech

Press the button. H&M is paying $20 million to buy a less than 1% stake in Swedish fintech firm Klarna. That quantity seems paltry but it is the partnership that is crucial. The giant retailer will use (paywall) Klarna's digital platform to simplify its returns. Millennials increasingly like to place big orders online and return what they don't want. Klarna's button at the check out counter will let them pay 30 days later. This new anti Amazon button is already used by British Asos and Swedish Ikea.



Square it. Square installments is a new offering for small businesses by the Fintech company, Square. After downloading an app online or in store, customers may set up installment payments over a maximum of 12 months, with interest rates ranging from 0% to 24%. Big retailers already have this flexible method of payments but independent companies couldn't do it until now. Square makes it easy for them. The designer Rebecca Minkoff and Afterpay offer as well to pay in 4 interest free installments.





brands

Plus is beautiful. Walmart's online platform Modcloth is flirting with Plus size apparel. The company just released an 8 piece dress collection created by New York fashion week regular, Anna Sui. The dresses, available in size 0 to 24, are less expensive than the usual Sui, being priced $150 to $225. Modcloth wants to be inclusive. The Anna Sui partnership is not the only venture into Plus size territory. Walmart has just announced that it is buying the digital native Plus size brand Eloquii for about $100 million.







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