Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Honestbee ceases delivery, suspends laundry services

May 15. 2019
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TROUBLED grocery and delivery start-up Honestbee will be ceasing its food delivery service in Singapore as part of the firm’s ongoing strategic review, it announced yesterday.

Its food delivery arm, which has about 1,200 restaurant partners, will stop on Monday, while its laundry service will also be temporarily suspended, Honestbee said in a statement. 

It is unclear whether its food Takeaway service, launched in February to allow users of the Honestbee app to order from partner restaurants for self-collection, will also be shut.

Honestbee announced last month that it would be suspending some of its overseas operations and cutting about 10 per cent of its global headcount amid reports that it was facing financial trouble and looking to sell.

It said it would be stopping its services in Hong Kong and Indonesia, and its food business in Thailand, as well as temporarily suspending its operations in Japan and the Philippines, though it had indicated that Singapore operations would not be affected.

Honestbee’s chief executive and co-founder Joel Sng resigned from the company earlier this month, while Brian Koo, whose family controls electronics giant LG, has taken the reins.

Earlier yesterday, The Business Times reported that investors were approached earlier this month about raising at least S$20 million (Bt 461.42 million) for Honestbee, and that before its leadership transition, it has eyed growth avenues including finance and insurance partnerships.

In its latest statement yesterday, Honestbee said about 400 delivery riders, many of whom are part-timers, will be affected by the closure of its food delivery service and suspension of its laundry service, and the firm is committed to assisting them.

“The decision was made to optimise the business structure, and to drive better focus and alignment with Honestbee’s current strategic priorities,” the statement said.

It will meanwhile continue to operate its grocery delivery service and its cashless and automated supermarket called habitat, which was opened in October last year.

The firm’s headcount in Singapore will also remain unaffected, it said.

Experts have pointed to Habitat, which occupies 60,000 sq ft in an industrial building in Pasir Panjang, as a way for Honestbee to grow its profits. 

Honestbee employees were reportedly told at a town hall last month that Habitat was profitable.

“The newly appointed executive team is working on future plans to stay relevant and sustainable in today’s rapidly changing business environment. This will help to put Honestbee in the best possible position to support the business in Singapore and other geographies going forward,” the statement said.

According to an e-mail to delivery riders seen by The Straits Times, Honestbee said no food delivery slots will be released from this week, and that riders will receive payment according to the regular schedule. 


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