August 25, 2000 6:15 PM PDT

Urbanfetch takes bite out of Big Apple staff

Online convenience store Urbanfetch.com laid off about 2 percent of its New York staff amid speculation that the company is looking for a buyer.

A representative for the New York-based company, which laid off 18 workers at its London operations earlier this year, said the staff cuts yesterday affected mostly warehouse workers and deliverers.

The representative said she did not know the number of workers laid off or the total number of employees at Urbanfetch.

The layoffs come two weeks after several publications reported that the company was in merger talks with its main rival in New York, Kozmo.com. Sources close to Urbanfetch said the company is looking for new funding, and that as a way to stay afloat, it has been actively searching for a buyer.

The bigger and better-funded Kozmo has been out-dueling Urbanfetch in New York and around the United States, the sources said. Kozmo, which is also based in New York, is backed by Amazon.com, which took a $60 million stake in the company last January. Kozmo has pursued an explosive growth strategy, sweeping into 11 cities since launching in 1998.

Urbanfetch, meanwhile, began operating in New York late last year and has since expanded only to London.

Kozmo has laid off employees as well. Earlier this month, the company laid off 275 employees, or about 10 percent of its work force, when a technological advance made the jobs expendable.

 

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