Welcome back to this new edition of The Spin. Business wise, it was not a good day for Asda and Sainsbury. British regulators just killed their merger in the name of competition. Neither is it a good time either for the French group Kering, which is preparing to pay more than €1 billion in taxes to the Italian authorities. Nevertheless, American creator Ralph Rucci is happily preparing to return to the couture calendar this summer in Paris and far away in China, fashionista Fan Bingbing reappears on the red carpet. Enjoy the read. Best, Caroline.


Dead deal. British regulators have blocked the proposed $10 billion merger between J Sainsbury and Walmart's subsidiary Asda. The deal which would have created the largest supermarket chain in Great Britain was reducing competition, which could lead to higher prices explained the regulators. Bad news for the American giant Walmart is indeed very good for Aldi and Lidl, the German no frills supermarkets, that are getting stronger in England.

Near deal. French Kering is close to settling its dispute with Italian tax authorities by paying €1.3 to €1.4 billion to the Guardia Di Finanza. Kering which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Alexander Mc Queen is accused by the Italian authorities of having created a Gucci Swiss subsidiary to avoid paying taxes on earnings generated in Italy. The agreement should be signed in May. Kering is not the only one under the authorities's microscope: Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Bulgari...have also been tapped.


Bonus headache. Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis has taken (paywall) a bonus for the first time in 3 years, despite the group decision to cut bonuses for staff to their lowest level since 1953. In its annual report, the British company recognizes that it has been a "challenging year", marked by weak sales and falling profits. Sir Charlie brings home a £33.000 bonus which gives him a total remuneration of £1.44 million. Staff bonuses have been cut to 3% of their pay, down from a peak of 18% in 2011.

Bonus nirvana. On the other side of the Atlantic, American Eagle Outfitters had a record year. Over the last 3 years, its earnings per share have grown by 8.5%. Chairman Jay Schottenstein benefited from the rise. Its salary jumped (paywall) more than 57% to $10.2 million in 2018, thanks to $5.4 million in stock options and $3.15 million in incentives. Wall Street experts underlined that this income was well over the median amount paid in similar companies.


VR coalition. More than 140 retailers, manufacturing and tech industrialists have formed a group to create a common set of technical standards for AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Realty). Objective: support the growth of 3D imagery in shopping. Adobe, Facebook, Google, Dassault Systemes, Target, Ikea, JD.com and Williams Sonoma set aside their rivalries to improve the consumer experiences. According to research firm Gartner, 46% of retailers will deploy the technology by next year.


Lingerie war. The omnichannel retailer RTW Retailwinds is entering the lingerie war in America with the online brand Uncommon Sense. The idea naturally is to benefit from the weakness of Victoria's Secret which suffers consumers' fatigue and declining mall traffic. Uncommon Sense is led by Pam Rice, who was the number one at GapBody and prior to that an executive at...Victoria's Secret. Competition is growing : Lively, Thirdlove, AdoreMe are also racing against Victoria's Secret.


Love from Paris. The New York creator Ralph Rucci will return (paywall) this summer to the couture calendar in Paris which runs June 29 through July 4. The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture rarely invites Americans to the couture shows. Mainbocher got his ticket, Ralph Rucci too, 17 years ago. This time, the creator will present its RR 331 label. He wants to play it pared down. He will avoid beads and feathers to focus on cuts, a monastic quality and subtle drapes.


She is back. The Chinese celebrity Fan Bingbing has just reappeared on the red carpet, one year after vanishing from public view. She paid her $70 million back taxes to the government, and as if nothing happened, she was able to model an Alexander Mc Queen pantsuit with a Louis Vuitton bag in Beijing. The X Men star will soon be playing in an all female spy thriller called 355. Stay tuned on Instagram.


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