plans to cut a third of its staff as it seeks an emergency investment or buyer | Retail is looking for a buyer or emergency investment as the controversial online furniture business plans to lay off more than a third of its workforce, the latest in a string of pandemic winners hampered by the cost of living crisis.

The company, which warned in July of job losses as consumers in need of money stopped issuing big-ticket items, has withdrawn its full-year guidelines as sales plummeted. employed an average of 673 employees last year, including more than 320 in marketing and products and 290 in administrative positions, and imposed a hiring freeze early this year. Now it aims to lay off 35% of its employees – more than 200 people – by the end of next month.

The company, which went public last year on the London Stock Exchange, had considered going into the markets to raise more funds, but says the dire conditions “are not supportive at this point in raising sufficient equity from public market investors.” “.

The retailer is undergoing a strategic review and is looking at options such as debt financing, finding a strategic investor, selling the company or merging with another company.

“While the group has had a number of strategic discussions with interested parties, at the time of this announcement, the group has not received any approach, nor in talks with a potential provider,” it said.

Shares in have fallen 98% to just 4p since its IPO in June 2021. The market value has fallen from £775 million to £15 million.

“When entered the stock market, no one thought that 15 months later, after a disastrous trading period, the company would have been put up for sale,” said Russ Mold, investment director at stockbroker AJ Bell.

“It floated at a time when people were redecorating their homes after spending so much time indoors during the various lockdowns. But quickly ran aground due to supply chain issues that left customers waiting months for the delivery of their sofas, leading to cancellations and frustration.

“Then the cost of living increased and major items like a new three-piece piece were put on the back burner, all of which contributed to a serious drop in’s stock price and a slew of profit warnings.” is one of a string of retailers whose performance has plummeted as the boom in sales boomed during the pandemic.

On Thursday, shares of Ocado hit their lowest point since May 2018, falling 62% in the past 12 months, with the online supermarket chain saying it will experience its first drop in annual sales this year since its founding in 2000.

The market value of Moonpig e-cards has halved from £1.3 billion to £628 million in the past year and profits at Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, have plummeted as the pandemic DIY boom draws to a close.

Mattress company Eve Sleep is waiting for a white knight to rescue the company as its shares languish at around 30 cents, after collapsing more than 90% in the past year.

The outlook remains bleak, with GfK’s latest monthly release showing UK consumer confidence falling in September to its lowest level since the index’s introduction in 1974.

“The cost of living is storming through retailers,” said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “Many more shoppers are expected to tighten their wallets and seek out bargains in the coming months as household bills rise.”

Since the start of the year, London-based has taken steps to try and maintain its finances, including curbing early inventory purchases, implementing a staff freeze, halting marketing spend and reducing capital expenditures. .

“To further expand the group’s cash runway, the board of directors has concluded that costs need to be further reduced and a process has begun to implement additional cost savings, including a strategic workforce review, within the coming weeks,” he said.

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

“No matter what happens, it looks like existing shareholders could be wiped out or left with only a fraction of their original investment,” Mold said.

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