Rakuten says it is closing its online store in Singapore with effect from March 1, 2016, while its marketplaces in Indonesia and Malaysia will also be shuttering by end-March.
The Japanese e-commerce operator said in a statement Friday its Singapore site would no longer process new purchases from next month, two years after it began operations in the city-state in January 2014. It added that customers can continue to use their ID and account data for its other existing services, including Rakuten Global Market and Rakuten Travel.
According to reports from Tech In Asia and e27, the closures across the three Asean countries would result in 150 staff layoffs. No reasons were provided for the move, but Rakuten did say it was part of the company's current roadmap and strategy, which includes plans to sell off its Thai online marketplace, Tarad.
Rakuten also revealed it was planning to debut its consumer-to-consumer marketplace app, Rakuma, to service markets in Southeast Asia. This would put the mobile app in competition against current market players such as Singapore-based Carousell, of which Rakuten is an existing investor through its investment arm Rakuten Ventures.
The company said its Asian headquarters would remain in Singapore.
Its Rakuten Vision 2020 report, published earlier this month, outlined plans to transition from its "early models" in Southeast Asia that comprised marketplaces in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, towards a future model focused on its C2C Rakuma app.
The e-commerce operator also would be focusing on increasing its footprint in growth markets, specifically, Taiwan and domestic Japanese market, with goals of achieving between 10 percent and 30 percent growth rates. Its market share in Japan clocked about 14.5 percent last year and it aimed to increase this to 25 percent by 2020.