Shopee lays off workers in food delivery, online payments and global teams

Shopee staff were informed of the cuts, among other changes, at an international town hall event on June 13, 2022. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - South-east Asian e-commerce giant Shopee will lay off some workers in its ShopeeFood and ShopeePay teams in the region.

It will also let go part of its teams in Mexico, Argentina and Chile, as well as a cross-border team supporting the market in Spain, according to an internal memo seen by The Straits Times on Tuesday (June 14).

In the memo sent late on Monday, Shopee chief executive Chris Feng said it is "making some adjustments to optimise our operations in certain segments and markets".

"(Given) elevated uncertainty in the broader economy, we believe that it is prudent to make certain difficult but important adjustments to enhance our operational efficiency and focus our resources," he added.

Staff were informed of the cuts, among other changes, at an international town hall event on Monday, with those laid off told via e-mail.

The platform will also end its early-stage pilot in Spain.

This comes after Shopee exited the French market in March, ending a similar early-stage pilot there.

It also left the India market the same month.

Said Mr Feng: "Our business will continue operating as per usual in Shopee Mexico, Argentina, Chile, as well as for ShopeeFood and ShopeePay in South-east Asia.

"We are committed to providing the same level of support to our users, partners and merchants in all these markets."

The memo did not specify which South-east Asian countries would be affected by the layoffs. Shopee has outposts in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, with its regional headquarters in the Republic.

He added that the company will do "the very best we can" to support affected workers, as the move would majorly impact them and their families.

The layoffs come even as New York-listed Sea, which owns Shopee, beat sales estimates and posted a smaller-than-expected loss in the first quarter of this year, driven by strong showings in its core e-commerce and digital payments business.

A Shopee spokesman declined comment when approached by ST to confirm the scale of the layoffs, the roles involved and whether workers in Singapore are affected.

ST has also contacted Sea and the National Trades Union Congress for comment.

According to professional networking platform LinkedIn, Shopee has over 48,000 employees worldwide.

Major tech companies like Sea, which raked in windfalls amid rapid digitalisation forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, are now heading into a world marked by high inflation, scarce labour, and supply chain disruptions that threaten to eat into profits.

Shaken by these uncertainties, investors have begun to eschew loss-making tech stocks in recent months.

Citing sources aware of the matter, financial news site DealStreetAsia reported the layoffs cut across several South-east Asian markets including Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Nearly half of Shopee Thailand’s payment and food delivery teams were affected by the downsizing, they said.

A separate source also told the website that Shopee has stopped hiring, with several job offers for regional roles rescinded.

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