Singapore

Honestbee to end food delivery service in Singapore

Laundry service will also be halted as part of strategic review

Troubled grocery and delivery start-up Honestbee will be ceasing its food delivery service here as part of its 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. Its takeaway service, which allows users of the Honestbee app to order from partner restaurants for self-collection, will be shut.

Honestbee announced last month 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 will be stopping its services in Hong Kong and Indonesia, and its food business in Thailand, as well as temporarily suspending operations in Japan and the Philippines, though it indicated Singapore operations would not be affected.

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

In its latest statement yesterday, Honestbee said about 400 delivery riders will be affected by the closure of its food delivery service and suspension of its laundry service.

"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 continue to operate its grocery delivery service and its cashless and automated supermarket called Habitat. The company's headcount in Singapore will remain unaffected, it said.

Experts have pointed to Habitat as a way for Honestbee to grow its profits.

"The newly appointed executive team is working on future plans to stay relevant and sustainable in today's rapidly changing business environment," 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 onwards and that riders will receive payment according to the regular payout schedule.

Deposits for delivery bags will also be refunded following their return, the e-mail said.

Under-utilisation of Honestbee's food delivery service may be behind its demise.

Honestbee rider Glenc Soh, 20, was not surprised. The amount of orders had "dropped drastically" over the last year.

During an average five-hour evening shift, the number of orders he fulfilled dropped from about 12 to two, he added.

BUSINESS & FINANCE