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E-commerce and gaming firm Sea Ltd said on Monday it is withdrawing from India's retail market just months after starting operations there, the second pullback this month in an overseas expansion drive, as the loss-making firm faces a weak growth outlook. 

The withdrawal, effective beginning Tuesday, comes weeks after its e-commerce arm Shopee said it was pulling out of France and after India banned Sea's popular gaming app "Free Fire".

After the ban, the market value of New York-listed Sea dropped by $16 billion in a single day, leading some investors to cut holdings in the Singapore-headquartered company.

Shopee said in a statement its withdrawal came "in view of global market uncertainties" and that the company would make "the process as smooth as possible".

Here's its message for shoppers

Dear Shopee Users,

We regret to inform you that the Shopee India platform will be ceasing operations with effect from 29 March, 12.00AM (IST).

Rest assured that all orders placed before this date will continue to be fulfilled as usual, and after-sale services and support will continue to be available to all users who have made purchases on our platform. If you have any questions, please contact at help@support.shopee.in.

We thank you for all of your support. It has been a pleasure serving you.

Sincerely, Shopee India Team

Sea earlier this month said revenue growth of its e-commerce business was expected to halve to around 76% this year from a blistering 157% in 2021, amid fewer online purchases and engagements as more countries emerge from the pandemic.

"Due to a drastic shift in the market sentiment towards growth stocks, all these e-commerce companies are under real pressure to at least break even as soon as possible," said LightStream Research equity analyst Oshadhi Kumarasiri, who publishes on the Smartkarma platform.

Sea's shares had already dropped 11% in January after Chinese tech giant Tencent announced it was selling 14.5 million shares in the group.

Shopee's India business

Shopee's India business began in October 2021 as part of an aggressive international push that saw it expand into Europe. Sea's market cap at the time was as much as $200 billion. It has since dropped to $64.76 billion in March 2022.

The local unit, Shopee India, recruited local sellers and launched a shopping website and app. India's fast-growing e-commerce market was already dominated by such players as Amazon.com Inc and Walmart’s Flipkart.

One person with direct knowledge of the company's thinking said Shopee's decision to exit from India was sparked in part by stricter regulatory scrutiny that saw Sea's gaming app Free Fire banned as part of a crackdown on companies allegedly sending data to servers in China.

Sea said earlier in March it does not transfer or store data of Indian users in China.

The person said Shopee had been planning to invest up to $1 billion in India, and that the pullback would hurt Indian logistics firms with whom it had signed lucrative contracts.

Reuters reported in February, citing sources, that Singapore authorities had raised concerns to India over the ban, asking why Sea had been targeted.

E-commerce players face a strict regulatory environment in India. New Delhi has for years imposed restrictions to protect smaller brick-and-mortar retailers.

Offline retailers in India have often alleged foreign companies bypass regulations and offer deep discounts that hurt their business, allegations the companies deny. Shopee had in recent months faced boycott calls from such traders in India.

Shares were down 5.84% at $116.12 in premarket U.S. trading.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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