Weekly News Update // Week of March 8, 2021

 Here's TRAUB's roundup of recent retail news. Hermès bets on mushroom ‘leather’, Kering's Francois Pinault becomes latest luxury tycoon to plow into SPACs, and more. 


  • India’s Biggest Jeweller IPO Opens Next Week as Economy Recovers BoF
  • Roblox goes public: What to know as RBLX stock debuts on the NYSE Fast Company 
  • 5 takeaways from the Coursera IPO filing TechCrunch
  • Coupang Raises $3.5 Billion Ahead of IPO BoF
  • Epidemic Sound raises $450M at a $1.4B valuation to ‘soundtrack the internet’ TechCrunch
  • OTB Buys Jil Sander as Fashion M&A Heats Up BoF 
  • Forward Health raises $225M from investors including The Weeknd as it looks to expand nationwide TechCrunch
  • Chinese Omnichannel Partner for Beauty Brands Raises $100 Million BoF
  • Perfecting The Indoor Strawberry: Vertical Farmer Oishii Lands $50M Series A Crunchbase News 
  • Nuorder Raises $45 Million, Natalie Massenet Joins Board BoF
  • Investing In Farmland: AcreTrader Lands $12M Series A Crunchbase News 
  • Christian Louboutin Valued at €2.25 Billion as Exor Takes 24% Stake BoF


NuORDER Announces $45M Funding

NuORDER, the leading B2B e-commerce platform announces it has raised $45 million in a round led by Brighton Park Capital and Imaginary Ventures. The funding is a testament to the acceleration of digital buying and selling over the past twelve months and signals future growth opportunities that exist within the multi-trillion dollar B2B market. This phase of investment will support NuORDER's continued growth and expansion within focus markets and enable the company to claim and transform commerce, finance, payments, data and discovery between brands and retailers within the global B2B marketplace. Natalie Massenet, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Imaginary Ventures and Founder of Net-A-Porter, will join as a board member and strategic partner driving European expansion and growth of the fashion and luxury retail markets. Managing Partner Mark Dzialga of Brighton Park Capital will also assume a seat on the board and contribute his expertise in helping companies execute against their global ambitions and within payments and marketplace. "I have seen first hand how slowly the fashion and retail industry adapts to change without a tipping point, and this past year has been another critical inflection point for many," said Natalie Massenet, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Imaginary Ventures. "There has been much focus over the last few decades on the consumer end of retail, but little advancement in the ways the industry operates behind the scenes. NuORDER has built the much-needed technology to power wholesale, buying, merchandising and now payments, providing businesses with digital tools to work efficiently and profitably in a rapidly changing consumer and retail landscape. Imaginary Ventures is proud to back NuORDER and I am delighted to join the board of directors to help guide the company as it enters into this next phase of growth." PR Newswire 


Hermès Bets on Mushroom ‘Leather’

Hermès is synonymous with classic luxury — a brand that barely strays from its iconic calfskin bags and silk scarves. But in a new, unlikely collaboration, the French maison is breaking with tradition and turning to a leather-like material grown in a lab. The brand’s “Victoria” travel bag has been reimagined in canvas, elements of calfskin and Sylvania, an amber-hued material Hermès has developed in partnership with MycoWorks, a California-based start-up that has developed a patented process to turn mycelium — a network of threads from the root structure of mushrooms — into a material that imitates the properties of leather. The new bag will be available by the end of the year and is intended to add a new offering, alongside Hermès’ more classic materials. It will not replace them, Hermès said in an emailed statement. The move reflects a broader shift in the luxury market, as fashion’s most high-end players grapple with a changing consumer base. Already many, including Chanel, Gucci and Burberry, have abandoned fur or exotic skins. Gucci chief executive Marco Bizzarri famously labelled fur “a little bit outdated.” Hermès continues to sell crocodile Birkin bags. However, new materials are also gaining traction, even within the established traditions of the luxury market, as sustainability rises on the agenda. For instance, Chanel has invested in green chemistry firm Evolved by Nature, with an eye on replacing harsh chemicals used to enhance the performance, look and feel of materials. BoF


Kering’s Francois Pinault Becomes Latest Luxury Tycoon to Plow Into SPACs

Francois Pinault, the billionaire founder of luxury conglomerate Kering SA, has emerged as the latest French tycoon to plow into the booming SPAC world. Pinault, 84, bought a stake in former Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam’s blank-check firm, a spokeswoman for the businessman’s holding company confirmed in response to Bloomberg queries. The investment in Freedom Acquisition I Corp. was made in Pinault’s personal capacity. Freedom Acquisition started trading in New York at the end of February, raising $345 million after Thiam increased the size of the transaction. The offering recorded an oversubscription level in the mid-teens, people with knowledge of the matter said. About one-third of the deal went to family offices, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Thiam has been on the board of Kering since last year, sitting as a director alongside the elder Pinault’s son, Francois-Henri. A representative for Freedom Acquisition declined to comment. BoF


Travel website Kayak goes brick-and-mortar with a new Miami Beach hotel

Popular travel website Kayak is diving into the waters of real estate. The online search engine, founded in 2004, will unveil its first boutique hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, this spring. Borne from the company’s push to “reimagine the in-travel experience,” the hotel will boast a number of innovations including contactless digital check-ins and tech-focused room amenities, such as Apple TVs and Marshall speakers. It’s being developed in partnership with Life House, a lifestyle-centric hotel startup. The resort will also house an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, Layla, which will feature technology from Kayak’s sister brand OpenTable, a dining reservations website. Fast Company 


Diane von Furstenberg Shutters Rental Service

Launched in February of last year in partnership with white-label rental service Caastle, DVF Link has shut down its $159-a-month offering, but will continue to partner with Rent the Runway, reports Retail Dive. “While DVF is an advocate of the subscription model and truly valued our partnership with Caastle, we deactivated DVF Link as part of the strategy to streamline our operation,” said a spokesperson for the brand. “Our goal is to focus on the management of intellectual properties and launch of a new dvf.com.” Rental businesses have suffered over the course of the pandemic: luxury platform Armarium shut down last year and, according to a report in Bloomberg, Rent the Runway has lowered its previous $1 billion valuation. BoF 


Saks Fifth Avenue owner spins e-commerce site into separate business

HBC, the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, said Friday it will split the luxury department store’s website into a separate business from its stores after it raised $500 million. It said the venture capital firm Insight Partners has put up $500 million to take a minority stake in Saks.com, valuing the business at $2 billion. Saks’ 40 brick-and-mortar stores will become a separate business known as SFA, which will remain wholly owned by HBC. The Covid pandemic has prompted consumers to shift their spending online, with several luxury retailers showing resilience. Affluent shoppers have splurged on high-end handbags, jewelry and other accessories. “Luxury ecommerce is poised for exponential growth,” HBC CEO Richard Baker said in a statement. CNBC


Vaccine Optimism Boosts Luxury

Covid continued to dominate news headlines this month with an Israeli study, the first of its kind, underscoring the effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing infection. Positive news from the Biden administration in accelerating the vaccine rollout in the US, as well as the success of the UK’s vaccination programme added further hope that the pandemic will eventually be brought to heel. Hermès and Moncler’s quarterly results hewed to a familiar pattern, with revenues soaring in China. Moncler notably pointed to triple-digit revenue growth in the country in February, driven by the holiday spending for the Lunar New Year. Meanwhile, Hermès saw revenues in Asia grow by 47 percent in the last quarter of 2020. Full-year revenues dropped by 6 percent at Hermès and 11 percent at Moncler, versus Bain’s estimated industry-wide contraction of 23 percent. Elsewhere, Kering’s dependence on Gucci came under the spotlight as the group posted a sales decline of 18 percent in 2020. Gucci contracted by 23 percent during the year and, more importantly, by 10 percent in its final three months. The brand had been on a winning streak, with revenues more than doubling and profits more than trebling between 2015 and 2019 thanks to its hugely successful makeover under designer Alessandro Michele. BoF 



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