Rakuten to close UK marketplace

Rakuten to close UK marketplace

Rakuten will close its UK online marketplace in August following a review of its European operations.

The website closure comes five years after the Japanese company bought Play.com for £25m in 2011 as a rival to Amazon in the UK, which then became Rakuten.co.uk.

A note on Rakuten’s corporate website said that following a strategic review of its operations in Europe, the company planned to restructure some of its existing operations to ensure it is fit to “capitalise on future opportunities in the region”.

As a result, the Rakuten UK marketplace and its Cambridge operations will close, along with marketplaces in Rakuten Spain and in Barcelona.

The company said the “cost of growth relative to the size of the businesses” had led to the closures.

Instead the company is going to focus on its e-commerce marketplace investment in France and Germany “as the businesses there have the scale and potential for sustainable growth".

Rakuten is no longer taking new merchants to its UK site before it closes in August.

The Bookseller reported Rakuten launched its UK website in October 2014, selling physical and audiobooks via third part retailers.

Japanese firm Rakuten also owns e-reading company Kobo.