Etsy to expand London office as part of international efficiency drive

Updated: 

Etsy is set to expand its London office despite company-wide staff cuts, as the artisan platform looks to centralise much of its international operations in the UK.

The online craft and artisan marketplace unveiled the first phase of its efficiency drive at the end of April and further cuts in June that will together result in the loss of 245 staff or 23% of its headcount versus the end of 2016, as well as the closure and consolidation of certain international offices.

But chief operating officer Linda Kozlowski says Etsy's future in London is secure and plays into a larger corporate strategy to streamline its overall operations.

"Actually London and the UK in particular is one of our most critical offices for our expansion work, so we actually plan on making sure that we're managing a lot of the centralised activities across all of international here," she told the Press Association.

Linda Kozlowski is chief operating officer of Etsy (Etsy/PA)

Etsy's UK team currently employs around 25 staff but that total is expected to rise.

"We will be growing this office as far as people in the future but what we want to do is, we want to do any sort of people growth very intentionally to make sure we're putting people in the right place and not growing too fast - either from a cultural or saturation perspective."

Apart from its position as one of Etsy's key international hubs, Ms Kozlowski highlighted that the UK is already one of the platform's top markets globally and had around 150,000 UK sellers on its platform as of the end of 2016.

The company does not break out UK figures, but reported revenues of just under $305 million (£231 million) for the nine months to September 30, up from $255 million (£193 million) during the same period in 2016, with international operations accounting for around $84 million (£64 million), up from just shy of $61 million (£46 million).

Etsy also managed to swing to a profit, reporting net income of $37 million (£28 million) compared with a loss of $8.5 million (£6.4 million) a year earlier.

It said international growth was particularly driven by business between buyers and sellers in the same country, a trend that Ms Kozlowski said Etsy was trying to capitalise on, and cater to, in the UK.

Etsy had around 150,000 UK sellers on its platform as of the end of 2016 (Etsy/PA)

"The latest focus specifically in the UK is making sure people have access to the local products first and giving them the opportunity to buy there," she explained.

"Specifically we're looking at how in the UK can we make sure that UK buyers who have a very, very strong propensity to want to buy from UK sellers can do that in a very seamless experience that feels very local and feels very relevant and connected to them."

The chief operating officer said that appetite for items made in Britain is not a post-Brexit phenomenon.

"It was actually sort of in the process before Brexit - so it's more about the tastes of where people wanted to buy even outside of the Brexit situation."

Etsy is prioritising this local movement in the UK because of "strong demand" and its "strong seller base", but it could be rolled out to other locations.

But economic conditions in the wake of the Brexit vote - including the weaker sterling exchange rate - may be opening doors for British sellers, whose goods may now be cheaper for international buyers.

"Keep in mind that with the currency exchange - because we are a global platform - it allows UK sellers to sell to other parts of the world as well, as the currency fluctuates ... so that's also something that we can take advantage of and let sellers choose how they want to market in order to make the maximum impact on their sales."