Retail marketplace Rakuten.co.uk has told its sellers that it is considering plans to close the site at the end of August.
Formed in 2014 after Rakuten acquired Play.com, the eBay rival’s potential UK closure follows the demise of its marketplaces in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore in February.
Rakuten is a global retailer that previously specialised in marketplaces, but has widened its services in recent years. It bought Play.com in 2011 for £25m. Following years of decline, the firm turned the store into a marketplace-only outlet.
The company encouraged merchants from across Europe and Asia to start selling through the platform, promising a more local experience with more options such as local payment methods and local language content.
As well as the UK, Ratuken’s Spain outlet will also close, alongside its Barcelona office. “The cost of growth relative to the size of the business has led to plans to close these operations,” said a spokesperson.
The company has confirmed that it will continue to invest in operations in France and Germany as the businesses there ‘have the scale and potential for substantial growth’.
PCR’s sister publication MCV has posted Rakuten’s offiical note to UK merchants. You can read it in full below:
"We regret to inform you that following a strategic review of its operations in Europe, Rakuten has decided to consider plans to close Rakuten.co.uk to shoppers from the end of August 2016.
"This is part of a European business review aimed at ensuring that Rakuten is able to redevelop our offer to match customer and merchant expectations in an ever-changing market.
"Rakuten has started to talk with employees around the closure of both the operation and the Cambridge office, subject to these discussions, we anticipate that the marketplace will no longer accept new purchases after the end of August 2016. Rakuten will keep the merchant backend (RMS) open until the end of the year in order to allow for refunds and chargebacks and to search for past orders.
"Rakuten will inform all merchants once the plan has been fixed."