Zalando has always been more than just a place to work. It’s a place where people care about each other beyond their roles. This strong culture and community of amazing talent, coupled with Zalando’s entrepreneurial vision, has always deeply mattered to us personally. We know it also matters to many of you and it has carried us together through many ups and downs since we started our Zalando journey nearly 15 years ago.
And that is what makes it so difficult to share the news we have for you today. We have decided to start a program that will remove several hundred overhead roles across many of our teams.
Over the last few years, some parts of our company have expanded too much and we have added a degree of complexity to our organization that impacted our ability to act fast. This will not be news to you as we frequently talked about it over the last year. Since then, we have made good progress in recent months with our slowdown in hiring and efforts to simplify our organization.
Yet, going into 2023 we acknowledge that we are not where we need to be and as a result, we must take even more decisive action. This is a very tough but necessary step to equip our organization to best act on the challenges and opportunities that the future holds for us.
Sadly, this means we will need to let go of some of our colleagues, each of whom has worked hard to make Zalando the successful company we are today. This decision does not represent a failure of people, roles or us as a company. It means that some parts of our company need to be shaped differently than the set-up that made us successful in the past. As founders and Co-CEOs, this is on us. Let us provide more context on how we arrived here.
Supported by an overall consumer shift towards online shopping and strong pandemic tailwinds in 2020 and 2021, Zalando has generated exceptional growth over the last few years. We did very well as a business and benefited from investing in our teams and infrastructure. We can all be proud of our achievements and position in the market. We have over 50 million active customers in 25 markets and trusted relationships with our customers and partners. We all worked hard to make this happen.
But the pandemic tailwinds have faded since 2022 and the macroeconomic environment has become more challenging. This shift has highlighted the increased complexity of our company and our speed to react. Instead of a big company with a big company structure and mindset, we need to be a big company with a small company structure and mindset. An entrepreneurial company that embraces simplicity, pragmatism and frugality. Those principles will drive innovation and equip us to invest into our strategic priorities and shape the future of European e-commerce.
Our founding mindset states that ‘ownership means being responsible to all our customers, partners and colleagues,’ and we will do our utmost to support all of our colleagues during this process. This starts with being transparent with you all today even though we don’t have all the answers yet.
This program will involve many parts of Zalando, including at the senior leadership level. We don’t yet have full clarity on the impact on each area, but we do know that our frontline operations roles in logistics centers, customer care and outlet stores, as well as operational roles in our Zalando Studios, will not be affected.
Today, we will start the consultation with our employee representatives and will come back to you as soon as we can with information on how we intend to approach this program, how we will support affected colleagues and the timeline we will try to work towards. This will include a broad range of options to support affected employees, including potential internal career moves, development and outplacement support. We are also considering starting with a voluntary leave program in affected areas. We will share more information as soon as we can.
In parallel, we will work closely with all business areas to shape the future set-up of our company and lead our teams through this difficult time. While we anticipate that our program will involve removing roles from our organization, we remain fully committed to continue facilitating internal moves where we can. As we start this process, we’ll hold regular events to keep you updated and to answer your questions.
Starting this program is one of the most difficult decisions that we had to take. However, we know that this is the right thing to do for Zalando and for all the success and impact to come. We understand that this will be a challenging period for our community. But we trust that we will work through this together with care and support for each other.
David and Robert