Honestbee has shut down in five countries

Singapore grocery-picking startup puts a positive spin on its predicament as it seeks investors.

Honestbee has shut down or suspended operations in five countries as it seeks funding to continue to trade in its core markets, including home base Singapore.

As previously reported by Inside Retail Asia, Honestbee has suspended operations in Hong Kong and Thailand. Yesterday, the company clarified that it had “halted services” in Indonesia and Hong Kong and its food vertical in Thailand. Services in Japan and the Philippines have been suspended.   

The grocery-delivery startup founded in 2015 has run out of cash but is putting a positive spin on its predicament.

“Over the past four years, we have demonstrated commitment to our staff, partners and customers, and continue to innovate and improve our business to stay relevant in today’s rapidly-changing business environment,” the company said in a statement.

“The launch of Habitat by Honestbee in Singapore last October marks the next phase in our evolution as a food company.”

Honestbee said 10 per cent of its staff had been laid off. It did not refer to the number of resignations over recent months, which have included senior management, such as the head of the Philippines operation. One media outlet reported that between 50 and 70 staff had voluntarily resigned.

The company said the curtailment of operations in five markets was necessary “to help us focus and align our regional business, and more importantly, to enable us to better meet our customers’ needs”.

“The status of Honestbee’s business in the remaining markets stands unchanged.”

Honestbee said media reports regarding a delay in employees being paid were untrue.

“We will ensure that all employees across all markets, including Singapore, are paid in a timely manner. In addition, we are also committed to fulfilling our financial obligations to all Bees (store pickers), partners and vendors.”

Meanwhile, the hunt for new investors continues. According to DealStreetAsia, Grab has been approached, but declined to be involved, as it is a shareholder in Honestbee’s rival HappyFresh.  


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