Media giant Naspers has confirmed that it is ‘considering’ closure of four of its online shopping portals, including SACamera, Style36, 5 Rooms and Kindelero. All four sites put up a ‘Closed For Maintenance’ banner on their respective homepages last night, leading to much online speculation about their future.
Affiliate marketing schemes relating to these sites, offered through AdMarula, has also been withdrawn over the last week.
An official spokesperson says that the company says that it is restructuring to focus on the general shopping site, Kalahari.com, which it says had a very strong Christmas. Staff are being consulted about their future.
These sites are run from the MIH Internet Africa subsidiary. Shopping brands operated out of the Media24 stable, like Spree, won’t be affected by the changes.
Naspers bought SA Camera in 2012, and has spawned two physical retail stores off of the brand. None of the suppliers to SA Camera that we spoke to this morning had been contacted informing them of the closure. The site was started in 2004 and purchased by Naspers just over a year ago, in October 2012.
In its report for the year ending 31st March 2013, the company recorded trading losses of R1.8bn in its online retail portfolio. It also operates South Africa’s largest online store, Kalahari.com.
The response on Twitter was generally muted, with several commentators pointing out that Naspers has a history of being ruthless when it comes to closing down businesses in this area both in South Africa and beyond. Kalahari Kenya and Kalahari Nigeria were closed in 2011, and its daily deals service Mocality was closed in the same countries in 2012. South Africa’s Dealify, another deals site, was closed in 2011.
Others saw it as an opportunity, however.
Dear @Naspers in future consult small agencies like us before u launch ecommerce projects. We’re so much more in touch than your people.
— FLUENCE (@fluenceagency) February 21, 2014
Naspers share price fell 4% yesterday prior to the closure of these sites. It’s believed that the reason behind the fall was Facebook’s acquisition of WhatApp, which threatens the growth of Naspers’ WeChat instant messaging services.
[With additional reporting by Tristan Hall, Pic – cc Oxfordian]