It has never been a steady ride for Abhishek Arora (name changed), a senior data scientist at online fashion portal Jabong, since he joined the firm three years back.
In 2015, when Arora joined Jabong, owned by Rocket Internet (a German tech firm), the company was looking at being a potential unicorn or a billion-dollar firm.
Things, however, started to go haywire soon after as the company incurred massive losses and went on the block looking out for a potential buyer. To increase Arora’s anxiety, a spate of firings in the name of rationalisation happened. In July 2016, Myntra, backed by Flipkart, acquired the firm. Arora was assured by the senior management that no one would be fired.
“We had a conversation with the leadership team and were told that it was business as usual. But then, we saw people being handed out pink slips,” he said. Arora still managed to survive that.
Arora and few other employees at Jabong alleged that over the last one year, Myntra’s leadership team has been systematically cutting down manpower at the firm. From almost a thousand employees, 300 have exited the firm either after being asked to leave or finding other jobs, fearing uncertainty at Jabong.
Then in May this year, Walmart Inc. bought 77 per cent stake in Flipkart. “Again, those fears rushed back. This time, we had senior executives from Walmart and Ananth Narayanan assured us that things would be much more stable at Jabong. We were told that merging us with Myntra was not part of the immediate plan as Jabong was doing well. Walmart told us that more people would be recruited,” Arora added. Many employees were also coaxed to stay on in the firm and promised fat retention bonuses.
However, six months later, Arora is one of the 200 employees who have been asked to pack up and leave.
Other than the 200 people getting laid off, another 150 or so have either put in their papers or are planning to do so as soon as possible to have options before they are put on notice.
In the last one year, Jabong has cut down operations in Gurgaon considerably and the place is almost running on skeleton staff.
Merging Myntra with Jabong was always part of Walmart’s plan. The signs of this were clearly visible when chief marketing officer of Myntra and head of Jabong Gunjan Soni and Myntra’s chief strategy officer and head of categories Ananya Tripathi decided to put in their papers, sources said.
“Walmart has been working closely with Flipkart to reduce redundancies, wherever possible. They zeroed in on Jabong almost immediately after they bought Flipkart. Their logic is that one does not need a separate portal to sell premium brands. Myntra is good enough to handle both,” said a source close to the firm.
While Jabong as a platform and brand would remain for some more time, the traffic as well as the orders would be handled and fulfilled by Myntra’s infrastructure.
Myntra, on its part, said that since buying Jabong, the two brands have been steadily integrating key business functions and are streamlining processes which resulted in revenue growth.