Welcome back to The Spin! Today we focus on tech and retail news, from Amazon’s purchase of Canvas Technology and its grants for future robotics engineers to new trends in rental services for apparel - and makeup! We also tell you, which brand just opened what is considered to be the world’s largest fashion store. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Ulrike


No business in show business. Retail experts expect an acceleration of store closures, forecasting this year's total to hit 12,000 in the US alone. To fill empty spaces, mall and center owners are increasingly being pressed for cheaper rents. So far, increased entertainment options have not produced measurable increases in indoor mall traffic when compared to malls without them, and neither have non-apparel tenants like Tesla and Apple.

For the record books. Irish fast fashion chain Primark has opened a massive store in Birmingham, England. Measuring 15,000 m2 on five floors and employing a staff of more than 1,000, it is considered the largest fashion store in the world. Featuring (image gallery) a Disney-licensed cafe and grooming services inducing a beauty salon and barber shops, the offer goes far beyond Primark’s traditional assortments to create a unique shopping experience.

Ludwig Beck sells Wormland. In a management buyout, Munich-based retailer Ludwig Beck sold (paywall; translated by Google) all shares of its Theo Wormland subsidiary to WL Erwerbs GmbH, which is wholly owned by three Wormland managers. The seller transfers (press release; in German) the company free of bank liabilities plus an additional seller payment of approximately €7.5 million, while the buyer commits to a capital injection of approximately €0.5 million.


Robo-shop! Amazon has bought the Colorado-based robotics startup Canvas Technology, which is specialized in autonomous carts (video) that might be useful to transport merchandise in large distribution centers. Experts view the deal as an indicator for Amazon’s intent to further automate its eCommerce fulfillment, which kicked into high gear with Amazon's purchase of Kiva Systems in 2012.

I, Robot! To inspire a new generation of robotics engineers by providing hands-on experiences, Amazon has partnered with the non-profit organization FIRST to issue its Amazon Future Engineer robotics grants to 100 schools across 21 US states. Amazon Future Engineer, which was founded in 2018, is part of Amazon’s $50 million investment in computer science/STEM education.


Great expectations. Following its recent takeover (press release) by US golf specialist Callaway Golf, German outdoor label Jack Wolfskin is looking to enter (in German) the lucrative US market. According to Jack Wolfskin CEO Melody Harris-Jensbach, who plans to utilize Callaway’s distribution and customer service, the US sports market is highly competitive but not yet saturated.


Rent! As Millennials around the world continue to question the ideas around ownership, luxury rentals are on track to become a hit with Chinese consumers, especially those in debt, experience seekers and the environmentally conscious. Several local companies including Alibaba-backed Y-Closet and Ms. Paris already cater to the market. US-based Rent the Runway, which has secured a $20 million investment from Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Joe Tsai in 2018, might also be looking.


Beauty and the bug. The Chinese sharing economy has reached a new milestone with sharable make-up booths called “17 Beauty Box”. Available at shopping malls in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan, these pink cubicles resemble (images) the dressing rooms of movie stars. Accessible via app, they allow customers to put on a fresh layer of makeup for the amount of about $4 every 15 minutes. Although disinfectants are available, hygiene seems questionable...


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