SINGAPORE, Sept 20 — Weeks after news came that e-commerce firm Shopee’s parent company was trimming its manpower at its gaming livestream business Garena and its development arm, some staff members at Shopee’s headquarters in Singapore have received notice that they will be retrenched.

TODAY understands that a low single-digit percentage of Singapore employees at Shopee will be affected.The latest development is part of a broader wave of job cuts across the region that it announced on Monday (Sept 19), including Indonesia where it will let go of 3 per cent of its employees.

In response to queries from TODAY, Shopee said: “These changes are part of our ongoing efforts to optimise operating efficiency with the goal of achieving self-sufficiency across our business.

“We are extending support to our affected colleagues during this transition.”

In a joint statement with the Creative Media and Publishing Union — which represents Shopee’s employees — Shopee said that it is in touch with the union and the National Trades Union Congress’ Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

“The company has assured the Creative Media and Publishing Union that appropriate compensation packages will be extended to affected employees in line with market norms,” it added.

“Employment facilitation and assistance, including career coaching and job matching services via the Creative Media and Publishing Union’s network and e2i will be offered, if required.

“(The union) will also continue to work closely with Shopee to ensure that employees’ interests and welfare are taken care of as much as possible.”

Shopee’s parent company, Sea Limited, reported a net loss of US$931 million (RM4.23 billion) in the second quarter of this year. This was more than double the losses in the same period in 2021.

Last week, Sea’s chief executive officer Forrest Li sent an internal email to employees saying that this is a “turbulent period” for the industry. In the email that was made available to TODAY, he explained that the company has not been immune to the “series of macro-economic blows” such as supply chain disruptions, rapid inflation, slow economic growth and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

“Sadly, we are not immune to these shocks... these negative conditions will likely persist into the medium term,” Li said.

“Our number one objective for the next 12 to 18 months is achieving self-sufficiency. This means achieving positive cashflow as soon as we can.”

To do so, Li said that Sea will be reducing its operating costs “in the immediate term”. Alongside other top management leaders, Li would be forgoing his salary.

Earlier this month, Shopee had rescinded job offers — primarily those in technology positions in Singapore — leaving some international employees stranded upon arrival here.

In June, it laid off some employees from its food delivery arm ShopeeFood and online payment ShopeePay teams across Southeast Asia. Staff members in Mexico, Argentina and Chile were also cut alongside a cross-border team supporting the Spanish market.

Early in the year, Shopee said that it was pulling out of France, which was followed by Sea announcing in March that it is withdrawing from India's retail market due to “global market uncertainties”, just months after starting operations there.

Shopee had 67,000 employees as of the end of last year. The online retail platform is one of Sea’s two main businesses.

TODAY has asked Shopee for the exact number of employees laid off and more details on its compensation packages. ― TODAY