Urban  Ladder  swings  to  profit  despite management churn


November 10, 2019

Written By Meera Vankipuram

Urban Ladder’s co-founder Rajiv Srivatsa quit last month

BENGALURU : Urban Ladder Home Decor Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which owns online furniture retailer Urban Ladder, turned profitable in 2018-19 despite a slew of challenges, including top level exits and its inability to raise more funds.

The Bengaluru-based firm reported net profit of ₹49 crore in 2018-19, on a standalone basis. For fiscal 2018, it suffered a loss of ₹118.66 crore. Its revenue rose 187% from ₹151 crore in FY18 to ₹434 crore this fiscal, showed documents filed with the Registrar of Companies, and accessed by business intelligence platform Tofler.

The firm’s total expenses for the fiscal were also higher at ₹382 crore from ₹232.73 crore in 2017-18. However, it managed to marginally lower employee costs from ₹53.6 crore in FY18 to ₹52 crore in 2018-19.

Urban Ladder counts Ratan Tata, Sequoia, Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners and Kalaari Capital as investors. In the last two years, it had hit a rough patch with several high-level exits and employee layoffs. Now, it has restructured its business, and moved towards a lower price point, among other changes, to cut costs.

Urban Ladder’s chief operating officer and co-founder Rajiv Srivatsa quit last month, while president Ajit Joshi resigned in April. Vani Kola, managing director of Kalaari Capital, also stepped down from the board in August. The company faces competition from Pepperfry and Swedish furniture giant IKEA. In FY18, Pepperfry had managed to trim its losses through cost cutting and adopting an omni-channel approach.

Urban Ladder is also believed to be facing a funding crunch, struggling to raise fresh capital after its Series E round two years ago. Earlier this month, it raised ₹15 crore from SAIF Partners, Sequoia Capital and Steadview Capital. However, some of its existing investors did not participate in the round.

Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of retail consultancy firm Third Eyesight, pointed out that it would take time for online furniture retailers in India to establish their presence. “The number of online consumers transacting actively on the net is small. The average transaction value is also a few hundreds, not thousands. It is a market which will evolve. There are more consumers today who are willing to buy durables online, but for a critical mass to be built up in the market, it requires some time. During that time, the companies have to spend on acquiring and maintaining market share.”

He said the furniture market, in terms of retail and consumer demand, is fragmented. “The segment that would buy online is also the segment that is highly mobile. The younger consumer is net-savvy and makes even large durable purchases online, but at the same time, they also don’t have a stable work life. And, if you are not sure about duration of staying, you may end up renting rather than buying. There is also competition from the second-hand furniture segment,” he added.

Source: livemint