Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on East-West Digital News, a leading English-language resource on Russian digital industries and related venture activity.
Russian furniture e-retailer Mebelrama.ru, which had been backed in Germany’s Rocket Internet, is shutting down, the company’s co-founder Manuela Stoll confirmed in an exchange with East-West Digital News.
In late 2012, the startup landed a $10 million financing round from Rocket Internet, but at present the decision was made to shut the project down.
Manuela Stoll, co-founder of Mebelrama and Westwing.ru, another Rocket Internet alumnus working on the Russian market, told EWDN about the near future of the two projects:
“The management team and the investors of Mebelrama.ru have decided to focus their efforts on the home and living category of the shopping club model Westwing.ru. The development of Westwing has been extremely promising over the last 1.5 years, and we believe we can make faster progress in penetrating this product category by focusing on just one of our current two business models. Westwing is well on track to reach 1 million members by late summer and is enjoying outstanding loyalty and repeat purchase metrics. Mebelrama’s top management team will stay on board to continue to manage the Westwing business.
“A substantial part of Mebelrama’s employees will be taken over by Westwing and will continue to contribute to our success. Unfortunately, we did not have a role for all employees, so we are currently busy helping the affected employees to find new jobs, either within other local or global e-commerce ventures that we’re connected to, or with other employers. We’re glad to see that many Mebelrama employees have received job offers or requests for interviews already last week, indicating a great demand for people with knowledge in the growing e-commerce sphere.”
Meanwhile, not everyone is happy with the changes that have occurred in Mebelrama. The startup’s procurement manager, Anton Ovchinnikov, who apparently was not among those offered new positions in Westwing, has even launched a blog where he describes his struggle with Mebelrama’s management.
According to Ovchinnikov, the company’s executives have refused to provide some employees with the compensation required by the law. The offended employee is looking for support from Rocket Internet.
Founded in September 2011, Mebelrama is one of Rocket Internet’s portfolio companies in Russia, along with shopping club Westwing.ru, fashion retailer Lamoda.ru – which recently attracted a whopping $130 million in funding – and food delivery platform Foodpanda.
Among notable Russian online retailers trading furniture is Homeme.ru, which has been backed by a pool of Russian and Western investors. The newest player in this segment is Marc-Aurele.ru, which has just been launched by a young French entrepreneur and targets middle class customers. Enter.ru, a next-gen online/offline retailer with a diversified offer, has a wide range of furniture.