Weekly News Update // Week of March 30, 2020

Here's TRAUB's roundup of recent retail news. Events company, Hio launches a virtual lounge to put network events back on remote-only calendars, CURA creates ICUs using recycled shipping containers, Moda Operandi exits Men's business, and more.


  • Dairy Farmers of America wins bid to buy Dean Foods' assets for $433M Food Dive
  • Vericool raises $19.1M for its plant-based packaging replacement for plastic coolers TechCrunch 
  • Dining and takeout startup Allset raises $8.25M as it adapts to life under lockdown TechCrunch
  • Qarnot raises $6.5M for its computer servers that heat buildings TechCrunch
  • VR chair startup, Roto VR,  raises £1.5M in funding, as pandemic boosts prospects for VR and gaming TechCrunch
  • Macy’s S&P 500 departure is just the latest stock setback WWD




Hio Wants to Put Networking Events Back on Your Remote-Only Calendars

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the COVID-19 pandemic has surged event cancellations across the country. Tech workforces have found ways to stay productive: back-to-back Zoom calls, work-from-home happy hours and more Twitter threads than anyone asked for. But Jason Craparo, the founder of events platform Hio, wants to put organic, face-to-face networking back on your calendar — in a socially distant, yet compliant, way. Today, Hio launched a virtual lounge and a Network Now feature to replicate by-proximity networking. Using your iPhone, you can use Hio to see professionals nearby that are currently ready to, wait for it, hit it off. Then you can slide to their profile, ask if they want to do a 1:1 video chat and share information. “Work from home doesn’t mean your results stop,” Craparo said. “People are being held accountable. We wanted to get this out so that the salespeople, entrepreneurs, small business owners and the like can basically get out to events virtually connected with people and meet their sales quotas and still do business.” TechCrunch


Moda Operandi Exits Men’s Business

Moda Operandi is shutting down its men’s business as the coronavirus pandemic crushes demand even among top tier shoppers. The online retailer started selling men’s collections, in season and through its trunk show model, in June 2018 to capture a rapidly growing luxury menswear market. In a report last week, Bain & Company said the luxury market could lose between €60 to €70 billion in sales this year, with losses peaking in the second quarter. Other analysts expect up to a 35 percent contraction in the market. BoF


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These Recycled Shipping Containers Double as Intensive Care Units

COVID-19’s rapid spread has strained hospital resources across the globe. Personal protective equipment isn’t being manufactured quickly enough to keep up with demand, and emergency wings are being forced to prioritize high-risk patients while sending milder cases home. While some hospitals are erecting temporary tents to receive more patients, coronavirus is easily transmitted, which means they don’t just need more space but more areas designed for complete isolation. In response to this need, Carlo Ratti—the Italian architect, engineer, activist, and inventor—is spearheading a task-force called CURA, an open-source design template that transforms shipping containers into emergency intensive-care unit pods. This blueprint aims to increase the efficiency with which hospitals can treat ill patients and is designed to be produced and transported to hospitals quickly. Fast Company


Burberry Swaps Trenchcoats for Hospital Gowns, Masks in COVID-19 Battle

Burberry has joined a legion of fashion and luxury companies helping to fight the coronavirus, leveraging its supply chain to make emergency deliveries of medical equipment and using its Yorkshire factories to manufacture hospital gowns and masks for patients. The company said Saturday it is using its global supply chain network to fast-track the delivery of more than 100,000 surgical masks to the U.K. National Health Service, for use by medical staff. It is also “retooling” its trench coat factory in Castleford, Yorkshire to make nonsurgical gowns and masks for patients. Production and distribution will be subject to approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Burberry said. WWD


Nowness Partners With Serpentine Galleries to Launch Digital Show

Even with most of the country shut due to the coronavirus, London’s cultural institutions have found a way to ensure the proverbial show goes on. Nowness, the cultural streaming platform, has partnered with Serpentine Galleries and K11 Art Foundation to launch “Out of Blueprints,” a digital exhibition of moving images by East Asia-based artists.The Chinese artist Cao Fei has kickstarted the virtual lineup, presenting a film titled “Same Old, Brand New” which was made in collaboration with fellow artist Dickson Dee. WWD



Estimote Launches Wearables for Workplace-Level Contact Tracing for COVID-19

Bluetooth location beacon startup Estimote has adapted its technological expertise to develop a new product designed specifically for curbing the spread of COVID-19. The company created a new range of wearable devices that co-founder Steve Cheney believes can enhance workplace safety for those who have to be co-located at a physical workplace even while social distancing and physical isolation measures are in place.The devices, called simply the “Proof of Health” wearables, aim to provide contact tracing — in other words, monitoring the potential spread of the coronavirus from person-to-person — at the level of a local workplace facility. The intention is to give employers a way to hopefully maintain a pulse on any possible transmission among their workforces and provide them with the ability to hopefully curtail any local spread before it becomes an outsized risk. TechCrunch


Beauty Brands are Using Slack Groups and Zoom to Collaborate During Coronavirus

Beauty founders and executives are coming together in ways they never have before, casting off competitive viewpoints to keep their businesses afloat through coronavirus turmoil. The beauty industry has transformed over the last decade to incorporate more founders and small business owners than ever before, and current grassroots efforts via collaboration represent another significant departure from historical procedures. Across platforms like Slack, Facebook and Zoom, founders and executives are holding meetings and contributing to discussion boards focused on sharing information and best business practices. And industry organizations like CEW and Indie Beauty Media Group are providing them with new resource centers. Glossy


  • Grab hires Peter Oey as its chief financial officer TechCrunch
  • WarnerMedia’s new boss is former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar TechCrunch
  • Cosmopolitan taps beauty director from Essence BoF
  • Ted Baker names permanent CEO BoF


  • What does a pandemic say about the tech we’ve built? TechCrunch
  • How Independent Brands Are Protecting Themselves Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic WWD
  • Service Providers: How Consultants Can Help Retailers Navigate the Coronavirus Pandemic WWD