Made.com plans to cut a third of its staff as it looks for a buyer or investment | Retail industry

Made.com is looking for a buyer or an emergency investment as the struggling online furniture retailer plans to lay off more than a third of its staff to shore up its dwindling cash reserves.

The company, which in July warned of job cuts as increasingly cash-strapped consumers stopped spending on “big-ticket” items, withdrew guidance for the full year as sales plummeted.

Made.com had an average of 673 employees last year, including more than 320 in marketing and product and 290 in management roles, and has instituted a hiring freeze since the start of the year.

It aims to lay off 35% of its workforce – more than 200 people – by the end of next month.

The company, which outperformed on the London Stock Exchange last year, had considered turning to the markets to raise more capital, but now says the dire conditions “do not currently support the raising of sufficient equity capital from public market investors”.

It conducts a strategic review by considering options such as debt financing, finding a strategic investor, selling the company or merging with another business.

“While the group has had several strategic discussions with interested parties, the group is not receiving approaches, nor discussions with any potential bidders, at the time of this announcement,” said the company, which has appointed PwC to handle the strategic review process and sale.

Shares in Made.com, which has issued three profit warnings this year, have fallen 98% to just 4p since it launched in June 2021. Its market value has fallen from £775m to £15m .

“When Made.com went public, no one would have thought the business would be up for sale 15 months later after a disastrous trading period,” said Russ Mould, investment director at brokerage AJ Bell.

“It floats at a time when people were building their homes having spent so much time indoors during the various quarants. But Made.com quickly fell apart thanks to supply chain problems with customers waiting months for their sofas to be delivered, leading to cancellations and disappointment.

“Then the cost-of-living crisis piece and big-ticket items like a new trilogy were put on the backburner, all contributing to a severe drop in Made.com’s share price and a series of earnings warnings.”

Since the start of the year, the London-based company has implemented measures to try to shore up its finances, including limiting future inventory purchases, implementing a hiring freeze, curbing marketing spending and reducing capital spending.

“In order to further expand the group’s cash corridor, the board has concluded that costs need to be reduced further and has initiated a process to implement additional cost reductions, including a strategic headcount review, within the coming weeks,” Made.com reported.

The company is also consolidating its supply chain in Europe and Vietnam, closing operations in China and reducing warehouse capacity due to lower levels of consumer demand. Customer service will be outsourced to third parties.

“Whatever happens, it looks like existing shareholders could be wiped out or left with a mere fraction of their initial investment,” Mold said.

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