FlyingPig's wings clipped

Internet retailer FlyingPig.co.nz has laid off about half its staff in what it says is a move to steady the ship.

Internet retailer FlyingPig.co.nz has laid off about half its staff in what it says is a move to steady the ship.

About 20 staff were made redundant on Monday, after employees were warned last Friday that jobs cuts were likely.

FlyingPig executive chairman Stefan Preston says the layoffs have been on the cards since the collapse of FlyingPig's planned merger with Australian e-tailer TheSpot.com.au last week, after a failure to agree terms.

"Also, since April we've gone into an environment where the cost of fresh capital is much, much higher than it was before, and in that environment it makes sense to be much more conservative about the pace of growth," says Preston

"If we burn up too much capital growing too fast ahead of the development in the market, then we won't own the business any more."

Jobs cut include those related to new product categories FlyingPig was developing for launch, but which have now been cancelled or delayed. Preston says new, automated systems have also reduced staffing requirements.

"In order to provide customer service without the systems we were putting in extra people. But now that the automated systems are coming online, we obviously don't need those excess people."

In contrast to the plans outlined when the venture launched last year, FlyingPig will be in no hurry to expand the range of products its offers beyond its core fare of books and videos.

"The evidence in the B-to-C market is absolutely clear and that is books is the king category, there's no doubt about that," says Preston. "That, and video - and perhaps music."

A music retail offering appears to be further down the line than the other new categories, and Preston says "we could switch music on any time, but we're actually not going to win any races getting to market."

"We've just got to manage the business prudently. The shareholders are there supporting us and we're basically not going to be doing anything sexy or rapid for a wee while."

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