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Which retail companies have reported the most successful year-over-year growth? How much did company X spend on its latest expansion? In the Retail TouchPoints Financial News section, industry insiders can find out what their peers are spending and how they are faring in the marketplace. This information can be useful for future implementation strategies, real estate ventures and growth opportunities.

Vue.ai Raises $17 Million To Deliver AI-Driven Styling Recommendations, Visual Search

Vue.ai, a platform designed to provide retailers with AI-driven and computer vision-based styling recommendations, automated product tagging, shoppable content and visual search capabilities, has raised $17 million in a Series B funding round led by Falcon Edge Capital. The new round brings the company’s total capital raised to $27.5 million. Already generating a fourfold annual revenue increase in 2018, Vue.ai will use the funds to grow its international team and scale its existing consumer base, according to a company statement. The platform is designed to automate critical functions across departments that are heavily dependent on human intuition, unifying data about products, people and processes. Global retailers such as Macy’s, thredUP, Argentina-based Mercadolibre and India-based Tata presently use Vue.ai.

China-Based Luckin Coffee Files U.S. IPO After Raising $150 Million

Starbucks has aspired to become the preferred coffee destination in China for a few years now, originally outlining a plan to open 5,000 cafés by 2021. But it is not the only coffee company pursuing aggressive growth in this market: China-based Luckin Coffee is planning 2,500 stores in 2019 alone, one year after building out a total of 2,000 in 2018. In the latest stage of its expansion, Luckin Coffee filed for an IPO with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The coffee chain intends to list under the symbol "LK" on the Nasdaq, setting a placeholder amount of $100 million to indicate the size of the IPO, according to an SEC filing. The filing reports a 3,883% revenue increase between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, but with losses more than tripling total revenue over that same period. For the first three months of 2019, the company continued to post a net loss of $85.3 million. Much of these losses come from the rapid store expansion — Luckin only opened its first café in October 2017 — in addition to the company’s focus on value pricing. It’s a far cry from the Starbucks focus on brand prestige to attract…

Casper Becomes Third Retailer In Two Weeks To Reach ‘Unicorn’ Status

Casper is joining Glossier and Rent the Runway as the latest digital native retailer to be valued at $1 billion, on the heels of a new $100 million Series D funding round. With the cash infusion, Casper is now valued at $1.1 billion, and seeks to use the funding to scale its global expansion efforts across brick-and-mortar, e-Commerce and wholesale. The funding and valuation come as Casper is seeking to hire underwriters for an IPO, according to Reuters.

Levi Strauss Raises $623.3 Million In IPO

Levi Strauss & Co. raised $623.3 million through its IPO, valuing the company at over $6.5 billion. The retailer offered approximately 36.7 million shares at $17 each, and has begun trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LEVI.

Starbucks Invests $100 Million In Food, Retail Startup Venture Fund

Starbucks has invested $100 million in Valor Siren Ventures, a new fund with plans to grow the next generation of food and retail startups. The fund will identify and invest in companies developing technologies, products and solutions related to food or retail. The venture fund investment is the first of its kind for Starbucks. Fund manager Valor Equity Partners hopes to raise an additional $300 million from other investors in the coming months; separately, Starbucks will explore direct commercial arrangements with the startups.

Glossier Valuation Reaches $1.2 Billion After $100 Million Funding Round

Glossier has raised $100 million in a Series D funding round led by Sequoia Capital, with the direct-to-consumer beauty company now valued at $1.2 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal report. In 2018, Glossier generated more than $100 million in revenue, largely by selling unisex skincare, makeup and fragrance merchandise. In February 2018, the beauty brand secured $52 million in Series C funding to boost total funding to $86 million, achieving a valuation of $390 million. Of the roughly 130 VC-backed “unicorn” companies (those valued above $1 billion) in the U.S., only 14 have a female co-founder, putting Glossier in rare company, according to a 2018 PitchBook report.

StellaService Raises $11 Million, Sells Off Mystery Shopping Solution

StellaService has raised $11 million in its most recent funding round for Stella Connect, its people success platform for customer service teams. This SaaS solution provides clients including Jet.com, Williams-Sonoma and Warby Parker with an updated approach to motivating contact center agents and empowering managers. With Stella Connect becoming the parent company’s core product, StellaService has sold its mystery shopping software to PowerReviewsfor an undisclosed sum. The funding round included new investors Harbert Growth Partners and Zendesk.

Neiman Marcus Comes To Agreement With Lenders, Aims To Drive $5 Billion In Total Sales By 2024

Neiman Marcus has reached an agreement with majority noteholders and term lenders to extend the maturity of the retailer’s term loans and unsecured notes by three years. The plan, if implemented, is expected to provide Neiman Marcus with “ample runway” to execute on and complete its transformation plan, which has been dubbed “Project Rolex.”

The Home Depot Joins Roadie Investors In $37M Funding Round

Delivery service Roadie has raised $37 million in a Series C funding round with investments from The Home Depot, investment banker Warren Stephens and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, among others. This latest round brings the company’s total funding to $62 million. This round follows recent delivery partnerships between Roadie and Delta Air Lines, Home Depot and Walmart. Roadie has used these partnerships to strengthen its presence in 224 U.S. metro areas. While many of these markets were initially launched with consumers and small businesses, they have now scaled up to meet the needs of enterprises by making deliveries up to 100 miles around every major U.S. city.

Retail Has Biggest Monthly Sales Dip In 9 Years — But Did Government Shutdown Skew The Numbers?

Retail got hit with a rough — albeit controversial — dose of news indicating that many merchants didn’t have a jolly holiday season after all. Overall retail sales fell 1.2% in December, marking the industry’s biggest monthly drop since September 2009, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The department also said, excluding gasoline station sales, retail sales fell 0.9% in December.Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that retail sales would increase 0.2% during the month. The December retail sales report was delayed by the 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25. Additionally, retail industry analysts are questioning whether the shutdown affected the completeness of the government’s data gathering, which could have skewed the numbers downward. No date has been set for the release of the January retail sales report.

Levi Strauss & Co. Files For IPO

Levi Strauss & Co. has filed for an IPO and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “LEVI.” The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined.

RELEX Solutions Secures $200 Million Investment To Accelerate Product Development

Editor's Note: This article has been edited since it was originally published. RELEX Solutions, a provider of unified retail planning solutions, has secured a $200 million minority investment from TCV. With the investment, RELEX plans to: Accelerate its product development ambitions in areas such as workforce optimization; Hire more tech talent; and Expand its retail-specific machine learning and AI capabilities. The platform is designed to leverage AI to help retailers improve product forecasting, localization and replenishment capabilities. The company’s sales have expanded at a rate of 50% per year, according to a statement.

Rebag Expanding To 30 Locations Following $25 Million Fundraising Round

Rebag, a luxury handbag resale marketplace, will expand its physical presence to 30 stores from its current five in the medium term including both freestanding and mall-based locations. The expansion will be fueled by $25 million in Series C funding that brings Rebag’s total funding to $52 million.

Foot Locker Invests $100 Million In Online Footwear Marketplace GOAT

Foot Locker is investing $100 million in GOAT Group, which operates online footwear marketplaces GOAT and Flight Club. Foot Locker's investment will bring the total raised by GOAT Group to $197.6 million since it was founded in 2015. This latest round brings GOAT’s valuation to more than $550 million. Over time, Foot Locker and GOAT Group will combine efforts across digital and physical retail platforms to create exclusive customer experiences, according to a statement. The investment also is expected to help accelerate GOAT Group's global operations. With nearly 3,220 stores in 27 countries, Foot Locker’s global locations can potentially serve as new access points for GOAT sellers and shoppers.
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