African online retailer Jumia’s losses narrow after cost cuts

PUBLISHED: Wed, 24 Feb 2021 17:16:29 GMT
A worker scans the barcode of a stock item ready to pack and dispatch inside a Jumia Technologies AG distribution warehouse in Lagos, Nigeria, on Friday, April 12, 2019. Jumia shares soared by 75 percent on their first day of trading in New York, as investors rushed to buy into the companys plans to extend online shopping services across Africa. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

LAGOS, Feb 24 (Reuters) – African e-commerce giant Jumia said on Wednesday its cost cuts helped it reduce fourth quarter losses by 47% from a year ago as revenues continue to slide, showing that its path to profitability was on course.

Jumia, the first Africa-focused tech start-up to list on the New York Stock Exchange, is selling fewer expensive one-off products such as electronics and focusing on cheaper but frequently ordered items like beauty and cleaning supplies. It is also cutting fulfilment and advertising costs.

Revenue slid to 41.8 million euros in the fourth quarter, down from 49.3 million euros in the 2020 period. But Jumia reduced its adjusted loss in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to 28.3 million euros.

Co-CEO and founder Jeremy Hodara said this proved the company’s strategy was paying off.

“We grew where we wanted to, and very efficiently,” Hodara said.

For the full year, revenue slid nearly 13%, to 139.6 million euros and adjusted loss EBITDA fell by 34.5% to 149.2 million euros.

Jumia outlined long-term hopes of expanding into new markets, including Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, and said that payment platform JumiaPay and Jumia Logistics could be spun off.

But Hodara said no such plans would be considered until the company became profitable.

“We have to make sure that Jumia is a business that can make money,” Hodara said.

Jumia’s share price was steady around $48 at 1550 GMT, having gyrated dramatically since its listing at $14.50 on April 26 2019, valuing the firm at $1.1 billion. It hit a peak of $49.77 shortly after listing but later plunged close to $2 a share after a negative short seller report.

In December 2020, the company raised €203 million in a primary offering.

Last year it also exited three countries and closed its travel unit to focus on profitability. ($1 = 0.8244 euros) (Reporting By Libby George;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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