September 22, 2000 5:10 PM PDT

Luxury goods site may be closing

Online luxury goods store Miadora.com may be shuttering its operations, showing that even sellers of high-priced products are not immune to the Internet shakeout.

A message posted on Miadora's site earlier today notified customers that it had shut down, saying: "We appreciate your past support." Later, however, the message replaced by a regular Miadora home page.

Two employees who spoke on condition of anonymity said the privately held company and Jewelry.com, which Miadora acquired in February, laid off all but a few of their combined 77 employees today.

Barry Gilbert, chief executive at San Mateo, Calif.-based Miadora, declined to comment when asked whether the company was ceasing operations.

Like most companies in the product category, online jewelers have had mixed results. Among Miadora's competitors are BuyJewel.com, Amazon-backed Ashford.com and Mondra.com. Publicly held Ashford has seen its share price go from a 52-week high of $35 to its current $3.38.

Many e-tailers are struggling to stay afloat as capital becomes hard to find, now that investors have moved away from e-commerce stocks. Closures and layoffs have become common since the April stock downturn, and the future for many companies remains uncertain.

While many Net retailers are banking that the holiday shopping season will fuel new interest from investors in e-commerce, some in the industry are predicting that other e-tail firms will call it quits around Thanksgiving.

"If they know there is a high risk that they may not be able to fulfill orders, they may opt to jump out now," said one liquidation specialist, who asked to remain anonymous.

 

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