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Startups

Vietnamese e-commerce company Leflair files for bankruptcy

Liquidator to be appointed; co-founders recently joined fashion retailer Maison

People photograph a dog by the Westlake after the government eased a nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak in Hanoi, Vietnam April 28, 2020.   © Reuters

HANOI -- Vietnam-based e-commerce startup Leflair has filed for bankruptcy after closing its local business earlier this year, according to one of its co-founders.

The company's two co-founders, Pierre-Antoine Brun and Loic Gautier, recently joined fashion retailer Maison.

Their move to Maison was first reported by local newswire CafeF, citing an internal company announcement. Brun has joined Maison as COO, while Gautier has become its chief growth officer (CGO).

Brun and Gautier will take charge of Maison's IT systems, logistics, loyalty program, brand operations as well as marketing and business development, among others.

Gautier confirmed the development to DealStreetAsia, adding that Leflair has filed for bankruptcy.

"Giving Maison any of our assets without a purchase would never be approved by Leflair board of directors or by the People's Court in charge of overseeing our bankruptcy proceedings," he said.

"The relationship we have with Maison and our future collaboration has nothing to do with Leflair assets and is purely about our personal expertise and skills."

The recent lockdown in Vietnam due to COVID-19 has delayed the bankruptcy process, but Gautier said the local court will appoint a liquidator in the coming weeks.

In February, Leflair said it had suspended its local operations, blaming "changes in the investment landscape for startups" that caused operational inefficiencies.

"Under a capital crunch and requirement for cutting costs, we have to come up with the tough decision to cease our operations in Vietnam," it said in an earlier letter to merchants.

In March, local media reported that the fashion e-commerce startup owed about $2 million to 500 partners. Maison, which was backed by private equity firm Mekong Capital in the past, is among Leflair's creditors.

Founded in 2015 by the former Lazada executives, Leflair offered high-end fashion products on its platform. It raised $7 million from Belt Road Capital Management and South Korean retailer GS Shop in 2018.

Investors in previous funding rounds included 500 Startups, Capital Management Group, AME Ventures, Hong Kong-based Caldera Pacific and international angel investors.

The fierce competition in Vietnam has witnessed the exodus of a slew of e-commerce firms.

Local conglomerate Vingroup and South Korean chaebol Lotte merged their marketplace websites with other units, claiming to pursue the new retail model.

MobileWorld Group shut down its e-commerce unit Vuivui.com while Thai retailer Central Group's Robins Vietnam closed its online fashion store.

The market is currently dominated by four players, namely Sea Group's Shopee, Alibaba's Lazada and homegrown marketplaces Tiki and Sendo.

For the original story from DealStreetAsia, click here.

DealStreetAsia is a financial news site based in Singapore that focuses on corporate investment activity in Southeast Asia and India. Nikkei recently announced the acquisition of a majority stake in the company.

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