[Update: 30 April, 5.50pm]
Honestbee released yet another media statement today, responding to the recent news surrounding its development.
On its global layoff, honestbee previously said that only 6% of its global headcount are affected but today’s statement updated this figure to 10%.
It maintains that some roles within the organisation will no longer be made available.
As part of an ongoing strategic business review, honestbee announced that it is halting its services in Hong Kong and Indonesia, as well as its food vertical in Thailand.
Its services in Japan, along with “specific partnerships in other markets” are also temporarily suspended as part of this review.
Previously, only operations in the Philippines market is “temporarily paused”.
This is 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 Pte Ltd
With regards to the media reports regarding payroll delay for its Singapore staff, honestbee claims that “this is untrue”.
“We will ensure that all employees, across all markets, are paid in a timely manner,” it added.
“In addition, we are also committed to fulfilling our financial obligations to all Bees, partners and vendors.”
[Update: 23 April 2019, 4.30pm]
Honestbee has released an official statement surrounding its recent layoff and pause of operations in the Philippines.
The firm said that it has conducted a “strategic review” of its business and are “temporarily suspending [their] food verticals in Hong Kong and Thailand”, referring to its food delivery services.
It added that they are working on simplifying and improving their business to better meet consumers’ wants and needs.
With regards to the layoff, honestbee revealed that “approximately 6%” of its global headcount are affected.
Following this retrenchment, some roles will no longer be made available.
The status of honestbee in the remaining markets remain unchanged as we evaluate and we will continue to operate and contribute to honestbee Pte Ltd.– honestbee Pte Ltd
Back in January, Singapore’s delivery and concierge service honestbee announced that it will “temporarily pause” its partnership with FairPrice.
It did not specify the period of time, but its ‘shopper bee’ — honestbee’s concierge shopper — claims that FairPrice said that this would be a permanent arrangement.
Regardless, honestbee users can no longer buy FairPrice goods via its platform.
An anonymous source told Vulcan Post that FairPrice terminated the partnership due to outstanding debts.
In Taiwan, honestbee also allegedly owes money to its partner vendors.
One of them told Dongshen News that honestbee has been delaying payments, while another said that it has not received any payment from the firm since January.
To date, honestbee owes them 3 months’ worth of payment totalling to about 120,000 yuan (~S$24,249).
Responding to this, honestbee Taiwan explained that they have been “streamlining payment processes” and since their parent company is in Singapore, there are bound to be delays.
It emphasised that the firm is not facing any cashflow problems.
Retrenchment In SEA
Today, Tech in Asia reported that “multiple sources within the startup” said honestbee has retrenched at least 50 to 70 people out of its 1,000-strong staff across several markets last week.
The affected markets include Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Thailand and it is not clear if this retrenchment is part of a restructuring exercise.
In addition to this, multiple senior executives have also tendered their resignation with the company.
In Singapore, key executives like co-founder Isaac Tay and managing director Chris Urban have left the firm, according to Tech in Asia.
Puts A Stop On Its Best-Performing Market
Over the weekend, honestbee issued an announcement conveying its temporary suspension of its operations in the Philippines.
In an email sent out to partner merchants, contract workers and customers on April 19, honestbee wrote:
As we work with our headquarters towards bringing the total business to a healthy and sustainable level, we unfortunately need to temporarily pause our local operations until further notice.– honestbee Philippines
This comes as very surprising news, considering that Philippines is honestbee’s best-performing market.
Yugatech reports that this abrupt halt of operations is “due to funding issues with the [Singapore] headquarters”.
On its Facebook page however, honestbee Philippines has been reassuring frantic customers that it will “bee (be) right back”, hinting that it will be serving customers again “in no time”.
With regards to pending orders and deliveries, honestbee Philippines said that they will be cancelled and all credit and debit card payments will be duly refunded.
We have since reached out to honestbee for further comments and will update the article accordingly once we get a response.
Featured Image Credit: The Hungry Chef