Telecom has finally pulled the plug on its struggling online retail venture Ferrit.
The website will stop taking orders on Wednesday, with the telco saying the move is “part of the company’s focus on the delivery of its core services.”
Ferrit’s demise has been widely predicted, with many seeing the division as an easy target for Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds as he tries to revive the telco’s performance and flagging stock price.
Ferrit has a chequered history, beginning when Telecom was forced to buy US pornography portal www.ferrit.com in November 2005 after confusion between the two addresses.
It has never turned a profit.
Telecom retail chief executive Alan Gourdie says Ferrit has continued to grow during the past three years but the current retail environment has meant the break-even point has shifted out a number of years.
“The decision has now been made to refocus and resources will be directed to other areas,” says Mr Gourdie.
Telecom retail head of PR Nick Brown says Telecom’s priority is to try to redeploy Ferrit staff to other parts of the company, but Telecom can’t guarantee that there won’t be any job losses.
Ferrit employs 24 permanent staff and 13 contractors.
The website differs from its much more successful rival Trade Me in that it sold new products from retailers, rather than a mix of new and second-hand goods from retailers and individuals.
Ferrit does not charge retailers to advertise on its website, instead taking a commission from each item a retailer sells. The retailers determine the price of goods they sell on Ferrit.
The online mall started with around 150 retailers in 2005 but this number has since dropped to 90.
Ferrit’s former general manager Ralph Brayham moved roles within Telecom nearly a year ago to take on responsibility for broadband and video services.
Telecom shares are currently trading at $2.38.