Such has been the slowdown in India’s startup space that even the country’s most valuable company isn’t immune.
Reliance JioMart has laid off 1,000 employees and could lay off thousands more, ET reports. The layoffs are a result of Reliance having recently acquired B2B wholesale marketplace Metro Cash and Carry, which has rendered many roles irrelevant at JioMart. Reliance reportedly plans to trim its JioMart workforce of 15,000 by two-thirds, which indicates that there could be thousands of more layoffs in the offing.
“The company has asked over 1,000 people on ground including 500 executives at its corporate office to resign over the past few days,” a source said. “It also plans to have another large round of layoffs with hundreds of employees already put on performance improvement plan (PIP). Rest of the sales employees have been put on variable pay structure after Reliance lowered their fixed pay salary,” they added.
Late last year, Reliance had acquired the Indian operations of German retailer Metro Cash & Carry for Rs. 4,060 crore. As a result of the acquisition, 31 Metro stores and 3,500 Metro employees had become a part of the Reliance empire. Reliance now appears to now be rationalizing its workforce across JioMart and Metro Cash & Carry, which has contributed to the current layoffs.
Reliance has been looking to grow its presence in the wholesale space by selling products to small mom and pop kirana stores. It makes sense for Reliance to have a footprint in the B2B market — Reliance is already India’s largest retailer, and has a ready channel to sell products. Also, FDI regulations in India around B2B retail are hard to negotiate for foreign companies, so a company like Reliance, which both has deep pockets and enormous distribution, appears poised to take advantage.
But Reliance laying off employees, as opposed to housing them in one of its many other businesses, could indicate how there’s pressure in India’s broader tech space. As many as a dozen unicorn startups have laid off employees this year, and biggies such as Google, Meta and Amazon have also laid of employees from their Indian teams. Reliance isn’t usually known for layoffs, but for the company to retrench thousands of employees indicates how the difficult the job market might end up being for fresh jobseekers this year.