India: Udaan lays off over 2,000 contractual employees as coronavirus hits supply chains

Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

B2B commerce start-up Udaan has laid off over 2,000 contractual employees across different business roles such as sales, marketing, operations, and credit collection, said four employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Udaan is an online marketplace that facilitates buying and selling of fashion products, groceries and electronics among manufacturers, brands and retailers. It was incorporated in June 2016 and since then, it has expanded its operations to 900 cities.

A majority of the contractual employee base acted as ‘fleet-on-street’ for Udaan, helping the startup acquire buyers and suppliers in the Kirana store segment. The Bengaluru-based unicorn is currently also servicing orders relating to essential goods through their partners.

Over the past month, Udaan has been facing a drop in business under their non-essential categories including electronics, kitchen accessories and others which also are high ticket in transactional value, as compared to essential goods.

Udaan’s contractual employees in North India were the worst affected, said the first employee quoted above. According to the first three employees quoted above, Udaan had hired several employees on contractual roles via human resource consulting firms, especially for ground operations.

“In this unprecedented breakout of coronavirus, we are adapting to the structural changes in demand in India which is impacting our current infrastructure. We are compelled to restructure our teams which has unfortunately made some roles redundant,” said an Udaan spokesperson.

The B2B startup’s contractual employees had received intimation directly from the consulting firms about their contract termination on April 24th. Mint has reviewed a copy of the termination letter circulated with employees.

“We inform you that, due to the closure of the project assigned to you, your employment with POONAM IT CONSULTANT PRIVATE LIMITED (HR consulting firm for Udaan) will come to an end with effect from 24-April-2020. You will be paid an amount equivalent to one month gross salary as separation pay with all other committed dues applicable such as incentive, reimbursements etc. up to 24-April-2020. Your benefits will cease with effect from 24-April-2020, (except Group medical insurance, which is extended for 3 months till July 2020 as per policy & eligibility),” said a letter circulated to an employee, who was laid off on Friday morning.

Over the past month, fleet-on-street and delivery personnel have been facing challenges in terms of procuring necessary passes for movement and delivery of goods, which is adversely affecting their employment status, said another employee who worked closely in the operations department of Udaan.

“We are a staffing company that caters to the demand of our customers across various industries. We are the waiter in the restaurant, not the chef. Springboard in good times, shock absorber in bad times. It is important to accept and acknowledge that capital doesn’t pay the salary of people, while it has for the last two months, economic activity does,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder, and senior vice president, TeamLease in response to Mint’s queries.

The startup which is currently valued at around $3 billion was founded by former Flipkart executives Amod Malviya, Sujeet Kumar, and Vaibhav Gupta. It has raised over $800 million till date from investors such as Tencent, Altimeter Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, DST Global, and others.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.