LONDON — Shangpin, one of China’s earliest fashion e-commerce operators which had famously partnered with Topshop in 2014 on the store’s aborted expansion in China, said Wednesday it was suspending operations indefinitely due to an “unsuccessful financial restructuring.”
The move comes as no surprise as the company has been enacting pay cuts and layoffs and having refund issues in recent months, according to local press in China.
Founded in 2010 by David Zhao as a flash-sales site, Shangpin expanded into a full-price luxury site in 2012.
It had once hoped to be a Shopbop-style platform selling midrange luxury goods and designer brands at bargain prices, and was backed by numerous funds such as Chengwei Capital, Morningside Venture Capital and Steamboat Ventures.
Shangpin made global headlines when it managed to sign an online exclusive license with Topshop in 2014 and promised to open 80 stores for the British retailer in 2016.
Despite competitors WeChat, Tmall, JD.com and Secoo taking over market share from Shangpin, the company may have set itself up for failure when it sold 90 percent of its share to Hemei, a Shenzhen-based company that runs the China operations of more than 45 luxury and designer brands.
Shangpin sold the stake last year for no more than 250 million renminbi, or $36.37 million.
A part of the deal, Shangpin agreed to achieve 400 million renminbi in sales in 2019; 600 million in 2020; and 900 million in 2021, and keep return rates below 24 percent.
It was clear from the start that Shangpin couldn’t deliver on its promises, and troubled Hemei was the wrong partner. The latter saw a total loss of 1.61 billion renminbi in 2018, while its net assets were only valued at 153 million renminbi.