Rakuten.co.uk faces closure

Updated: Rakuten.co.uk may be closed by the end of August, the marketplace has told sellers.

The retail marketplace, which was formed in 2014 after Rakuten acquired Play.com, informed those that utilise the service that they are talking to employees about the closure of the entire operation and the Cambridge office.

The information comes from the merchant side of Rakuten.co.uk. MCV has since received confirmation of the move, plus news that Rakuten’s Spain outlet will also be closed alongside its Barcelona office. France and Germany businesses will remain as they have ‘the scale and potential for sustainable growth’.

Here is the note in full issued to merchants:

"We regret to inform you that following a strategic review of its operations in Europe, Rakuten has decided to consider plans to close Rakuten.co.uk to shoppers from the end of August 2016.

"This is part of a European business review aimed at ensuring that Rakuten is able to redevelop our offer to match customer and merchant expectations in an ever-changing market.

"Rakuten has started to talk with employees around the closure of both the operation and the Cambridge office, subject to these discussions, we anticipate that the marketplace will no longer accept new purchases after the end of August 2016. Rakuten will keep the merchant backend (RMS) open until the end of the year in order to allow for refunds and chargebacks and to search for past orders.

"Rakuten will inform all merchants once the plan has been fixed."

Rakuten is recommendeding sellers cancel any pre-orders that it may have secured via the service.

Rakuten is a global retailer that previously specialises in marketplaces, but has widened its services in recent years. The firm closed all its marketplaces in Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore) in February.

Rakuten bought Play.com in 2011 for 25m. Following years of decline, the firm turned the store into a marketplace-only outlet.

Despite its global presence, Rakuten.co.uk has struggled to match the dominance of eBay and Amazon in the UK. GAME has also opened its own marketplace in the past 12 months.

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