Play.com, one of the largest online retailers in the UK which sold everything from clothes to gadgets, games and electronics, is shutting the retail part of its business in March, the company has revealed.
As such it will no longer be selling directly to customers, and will be focusing on its marketplace which is similar to Amazon Marketplace.
The Jersey-based company blames the closure on the ending of the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) law that meant items worth less than £15 could be sold in the UK without incurring a VAT charge. The UK government closed this loophole in April 2012.
With Blu-rays, DVDs, CDs, games, memory sticks and inexpensive gadgets making up a large portion of Play.com’s sales, these inexpensive items were all being sold VAT-free, which was one of the reasons the etailer’s prices were often so competitive.
Play.com, which was bought by Japanese giant Rakuten in 2011, will make all of its 147 Jersey staff redundant, along with 67 employees based in Cambridge and Bristol. After the transition, it will still be employing around 200 in its relocated headquarters at Cambridge.
We’re always sad to see a technology retailer disappear, but at least it will still exist as a service to let others sell their wares. Then again, it may have a hard time competing with Amazon and Ebay which already offer similar online outlets, especially now that confidence in the Play.com name may have been shaken.