Lot18, the New York-based startup that runs a members-only website selling high-end wine, will be shutting down its UK operations at the end of this week and laying off the six employees that worked there. Lot18 launched its UK operations just four months ago, in early March.
Lot18 announced the shutdown in a statement yesterday, which was apparently sent only to wine industry publications. It read in part:
“Lot18 has decided to close its operations in the UK at the end of this week. UK wine lovers who came to us early on stayed with us, and continued to buy wines from Lot18. They liked that we brought something different to the UK wine scene, which remains the most competitive in the world. Unfortunately, the supermarkets’ stranglehold on the UK market proved too powerful for us to compete with and we have not experienced the anticipated growth rate.”
It’s looking like Lot18 has had a classic case of growing too much, too soon: This is its third bout of layoffs so far this year. In January, the company cut 15 percent of its staff to downsize from 96 employees to 72, and last month it laid off another 11 employees as part of the closure of its relatively new food and travel verticals.
Lot18 was founded in 2010 and has raised $44.5 million in venture capital, $30 million of which came in the hefty Series C round it received this past November led by Accel Partners. The company said in its statement this week regarding the UK closure that it now has nearly 1 million members in the U.S. and that it recently sold its millionth bottle of wine here, but we’re hearing rumors that Lot18′s operations in the States may be scaled back a bit more as well.
We’ve reached out to Philip James, Lot18′s CEO, for more information, and will update this with any comment we receive.