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Carousell Group axes 110 employees, CEO says he will ‘take responsibility’ for decisions that led to retrenchments

SINGAPORE — Carousell Group has laid off about 110 employees, around half of them based in Singapore. Its chief executive officer Quek Siu Rui said that he will “take responsibility for the decisions that have led us here”.

Carousell said about 50 job roles in Singapore were affected by the retrenchment notice.
Carousell said about 50 job roles in Singapore were affected by the retrenchment notice.
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  • About 10 per cent of Carousell Group’s employees have been laid off, with about 50 roles based in Singapore
  • CEO Quek Siu Rui said that he will "take responsibility" for the decisions that led to the retrenchments
  • Among the reasons that led to the retrenchments was that he had been "too optimistic" over Covid-19 recovery
  • However, he also said it is prudent that the group gets to profitability as quickly as possible
  • The co-founders and group leadership will take voluntary pay cuts

SINGAPORE — Carousell Group has laid off about 110 employees, around half of them based in Singapore. Its chief executive officer Quek Siu Rui said that he will “take responsibility for the decisions that have led us here”.

Mr Quek acknowledged that he had been “too optimistic” in trying to grow the company, which had also been hit by the worsening macroeconomic environment.

In an email to his staff members — which was republished on Carousell’s website on Thursday (Dec 1) — Mr Quek said that the layoffs represent 10 per cent of the group’s total head count. 

He added that “only teammates from some business units are affected”, though he did not elaborate on this point. 

In response to TODAY's queries, Carousell said about 50 roles in Singapore were affected. 

The announcement by Mr Quek followed a spate of layoffs at multinational tech giants with offices in Singapore in recent months, involving companies such as Shopee, Meta and Twitter.

On Monday, Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng said in Parliament that his ministry had received 1,270 retrenchment notices from tech companies from July to mid-November this year.

Carousell Group not only manages the eponymous e-marketplace, but also other similar online classified websites that include Cho Tot, which operates out of Vietnam, Mudah (Malaysia), Laku6 (Indonesia) and OneKyat (Myanmar).

The group also manages platforms that deal with automotives and financial solutions such as OneShift by Carousell and Revo Financial.

In the email to his employees, Mr Quek said: “I am deeply sorry for this outcome, and I take responsibility for the decisions that have led us here.”

As for the affected staff members, he said that the group “will be sure to treat everyone impacted with compassion and to lend as much support as we can to them”.

Regular staff members who are retrenched will get one month's salary for every year of service. Notwithstanding this, every employee who are affected will be getting at least three months of compensation.

They will also get to keep their medical benefits and insurance coverage, as well as those for their dependents, up to June 30 next year, subject to approval by insurers and medical service providers here.

Mr Quek said that the group will also provide tools for job search, including letting affected employees keep their office laptop and continue their LinkedIn Learning — an online learning platform — membership until June 30 next year.


As to what led to the retrenchments, Mr Quek said that as the group emerged from the 2021 Covid-19 lockdowns, it was “optimistic about the recovery to come and eager to reignite growth in our core classifieds business”.

He said: “We doubled down on a number of new initiatives to make selling and buying more convenient and trusted, to make secondhand the first choice for even more people across the region.

“That meant creating more teams to work on these initiatives, which included new teammates that we had to hire.”

In retrospect, Mr Quek said that he had been “too optimistic”.

“The reality is that we were quick to grow our expenses and hire, but the returns took longer than expected.”

He also acknowledged that he had underestimated the impact of growing the company too quickly.

Larger teams, for instance, led to a lack of clarity in decision-making and more coordination required to get things done, he said.

“It does not help that the worsening macroeconomic environment presents more headwinds to the growth expected.”

As early as March this year, he said that the group saw signs of the “perfect long storm” — high inflation, geopolitical risks and supply chain disruption.

“In recent weeks, things have taken a turn for the worse," he added. "The global economy continues to face steep challenges, with economists expecting a broad-based slowdown in 2023.”

Due to the uncertainty of when market conditions will improve, Mr Quek said it is only prudent that the group gets to profitability “as quickly as possible”.

He and various leaders of the group have spent the last few months “finding as many non-people cost savings as possible”.

Besides combing through the group’s budget, the company also moved to an office with significantly lower rent.

Mr Quek also said that the co-founders and group leadership will take voluntary pay cuts.

“Yet, this is far from enough. In order to accelerate our path to profitability, we will need to reorganise to focus on critical priorities and operate more efficiently.”


Separately, the Creative Media and Publishing Union (CMPU), which is affiliated with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said in a statement on Friday that it was working with the Carousell Group to ensure that the reorganisation is carried out “in a fair, transparent and responsible manner”.

CMPU said the group has given the assurance that affected employees will be accorded fair compensation with what has been negotiated and agreed upon with the union, and that it is also in line with the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment.

Compensation aside, the statement said that CMPU and the group are also working with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute to provide career coaching and job-matching services for affected employees.

“CMPU understands that this decision does not come lightly to Carousell,” the union said.

“The union stands in solidarity with the affected employees, and its immediate priority is to continue working closely with Carousell to ensure that these workers receive the necessary assistance and support.”

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Carousell retrenchment

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