Welcome to this new edition of The Spin. This Thursday it's all about retail in Europe. Giant American VF Corp is opening a hub in London to better showcase its brands on the old continent and giant Chinese Alibaba is planning its own hub in Belgium to facilitate small European business exports to China. We are also looking at HBC progress, thanks to Saks Fifth Avenue and finally we celebrate the opening of a new Thom Browne boutique in Miami. Enjoy the read. Best, Caroline.


Slow progress. Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) "is starting to make some progress" said CEO Helena Foulkes, when she was presenting its third quarter results. The North American group, including its European joint venture, is still posting a net loss of C$164 million, but comparable sales are climbing to 2.9%. Luxurious Saks Fifth Avenue, in particular, is recording (paywall) a 7.3% same store sales rise. Helena Foulkes remains cautious: she has still 10 struggling Lord and Taylor to close.


London's bet. Forget about Brexit. Giant VF Corp plans (paywall) to open a business hub for its brands in the heart of London, in Soho, next spring. Its 15 000 square feet building will host showrooms for its brands (The North Face, Vans...) as well as digital and design spaces. The idea: let buyers mingle with designers. VF Corp leaders hope that this new building will help develop both the English and European market. VF Corp is not the only one betting on England, Chanel too will bring its headquarters to London.


Alibaba's new cave. Chinese Alibaba is teaming up with the government of Belgium to build the first e-commerce trade platform to facilitate European small business exports to China. The e-commerce giant is investing €75 million in a 220 000 m2 logistics hub at the Liege airport to begin operations in 2021. Alibaba has already 2 other hubs outside of China in Malaysia and Rwanda. Their mission: boost imports of $200 billion goods in China within 5 years.

Browne's new digs. New York creator Thom Browne has just opened (paywall) a new store in Miami, in the Design district, a hub of luxury retail. The 3000 square foot space, created (in Italian) by architect Flavio Albanese, is encased in grey ceramic subway tiles. Men and women collections are shown among mid century American and French furniture. Thom Browne has opened 18 stores around the world in America, Europe and Asia. Since last summer, the Ermenegildo Zegna group owns an 85% stake in the company.

No time to play. One year after getting out of bankruptcy, San Francisco based Gymboree group is still in trouble. The kid's clothing retailer hired (paywall) a new CEO Shaz Kahng to explore a strategic review of its 900 stores under different brands Gymboree, Janie and Jack and Crazy 8. It has already being decided that the entire 265 Crazy 8 will close. Competition from the Children's Place doesn't help. Gymboree's own brands are also cannibalizing each other.


Lafayette, she is here. Liz Fraser has been named (paywall) president of Lafayette 148. She is responsible of global sales and marketing, design and merchandising of the growing career dressing company. Lafayette 148 operates 21 boutiques in America and Asia. Liz Fraser who worked in all the good places Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, Escada, Esprit de Corp and Anne Klein was also president of Marc by Marc Jacobs when the lifestyle brand was at its best.

Changing of the guard. Frank Doroff, 70, Bloomingdale's vice chairman and general merchandise manager is retiring . The Macy's executive trainee spent (paywall) 27 years at Bloomingdale's, the luxury division of Macy's. He will be replaced in January by Denise Magid, another creative merchant who founded DVMagid Consulting. The New York university alumnus spent some time both at Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord and Taylor. She was also chief merchant at Intermix.


Cuddly. The Teddy bear coat is strongly coming back this winter. Max Mara attracted attention in 2013 when its pink version appeared on the catwalk. Since then, the Teddy is developing its fan base. The coat is big, cozy, fury...totally in phase with the faux fur revolution. Anthropologie has a three quarter length version, Asos offers a biker model and Zara plays it boho. Like the favorite bear of your childhood, its colors are appeasing: beige, soft pink, baby blue...Enjoy.


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