Welcome to this Friday edition of The Spin. There's quite a bit happening on the retail front: Amazon has announced a new program that will teach interested employees new skill sets, the new giant Primark store in the UK has become a genuine tourist draw, M&S has split with its fashion director (yet again) and Lululemon has just unveiled a massive new store concept in Chicago that is so much more than an ordinary store. Enjoy the read – and the weekend. TGIF, Christopher


Personnel trainer. Amazon has pledged to spend $700 million through 2025 to retrain one-third of its US employees, or 100,000 workers, in a new voluntary program it is calling Upskilling 2025. The initiative will allow unskilled workers to develop the necessary proficiency to step into different areas of the company or potentially find related jobs at other companies. The action was taken to keep Amazon's workforce abreast and prepared for the constant changes in the world of tech and automation, some of which, such as robots, could make their current jobs obsolete down the line.

Forget Stonehenge, etc. The UK has a new hot tourist destination: the world's largest Primark store (161,000 sq. feet over five floors) that opened in Birmingham in April. British travel agencies are now offering bus tours from all over the country to the retail hotspot and these often sold-out getaways have become extremely popular. The megastore is said to be the largest fashion retail store in the world.


Jettisoning Jill. In other UK retail news, troubled high street chain Marks & Spencer has parted ways with its clothing, home and beauty director Jill McDonald who was appointed to that role in October 2017. A veteran of the car parts and fast food industries who never worked in fashion before, McDonald failed to turn around the performance of the store's clothing ranges – thereby sparking the ire of CEO Steve Rowe. He has already temporarily assumed her duties at M&S, which is the UK's largest fashion retailer.

Tennis, Dao Yi? Dao-Yi Chow, co-founder of the award-winning Public School line (and former co-creative director of DKNY), has been named global creative director of the newly relaunched sportswear line Sergio Tacchini, which is named for the Italian tennis star and was originally founded in 1966. The brand is now under new ownership (press release) and is currently stressing its young women's styles. Chow's first collection for the label will be for s/s 2020.

Buon compleanno. Legendary Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani turned 85 years old yesterday. While people wonder who might eventually succeed him at his still privately owned label, the world's richest designer has mentioned his nieces and nephews as possible heirs but has also vowed to never stop working. To honor the milestone, Moviefone has published an online gallery of some the best fashion looks he has created for the silver screen.


One step closer. According to anonymous sources, J. Crew is proceeding with its plan to take its Madewell division public after the summer. They say it has now hired three investment banks to start preparing the initial public offering, which it has been exploring for the past three months. Madewell is also in the headlines this week for another reason: it is now being sued by The Great Incorporated for copyright infringement. The latter claims the former blatantly knocked off its poppy-print fabric design.

Taking Timezone. German casual brand Timezone has been saved (paywall; translated by Google). The main brand of insolvent Escape Clothing GmbH, Timezone will be taken over (in German) by The Röther Group, one of the leading German textile retailers, the two parties announced yesterday. The acquisition will help Röther strengthen its position in the denim and chinos segments and will allow most Timezone employees to retain their jobs.

Super store. Athletic giant Lululemon opened its largest store ever yesterday: a 20,000-square-foot flagship in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. More than just a retail space for activewear, the two-level space also features an onsite restaurant and a total of three fitness studios that are home to classes in meditation, yoga and high-intensity workouts. And of course there are locker rooms and showers, too.


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