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Honestbee suspends key businesses and lays off 10% of workforce

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

May 2, 2019 | 3 min read

Singapore-based online marketplace platform Honestbee has announced it is suspending its Asia Pacific operations and laying off 10% of its workforce after weeks of speculation.

The first sign of trouble at the e-commerce business, as reported by various media outlets like Tech in Asia and TechCrunch, came after it failed to, or was slow in, paying merchants. It then saw mass resignations of senior executives and tried to offload its business to the likes of Grab and Go-Jek.

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Honestbee operates Habitat, a 60,000sq foot space that houses a grocery and dining retail store.

The rumours gathered pace when Honestbee told its Singapore-based staff that they won’t be paid in time and closed its Philippines operations temporarily.

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Aside from Singapore and Philippines, Honestbee also operates in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, with services like food delivery, laundry and groceries.

In Singapore, it also operates Habitat, a 60,000sq foot space that houses a grocery and dining retail store, which hopes to show off the best of innovation in retail, including ‘autocheckouts’ and ‘RoboCollect’, similar to Alibaba’s Hema stores in China.

Yesterday (May 1), Honestbee said it will be retrenching about 10% of its headcount, which is around 100 employees. It will also stop its Hong Kong and Indonesia services, its food delivery service in Thailand, and temporarily halting services in Japan.

One of those affected by the layoffs appeared to be Honestbee co-founder and chief executive officer Joel Sng, according to TechCrunch, which cited sources saying the senior exec cleared his desk after the announcement.

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