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Oyo's UK chief of staff leaves after layoffs

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
A man walks past a logo of Oyo Rooms on March 09, 2020 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man walks past a logo of Oyo Rooms in Mumbai, India. (Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The UK chief of staff at SoftBank-backed hotel startup Oyo has left the company shortly amid global job cuts at the business.

Freddie Fforde told staff on Thursday he would be leaving Oyo this week. Fforde has been with the company since January 2019 and was both chief of staff and operations director, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Insiders say Fforde was close to Oyo’s UK launch leader Jeremy Sanders, who left the business at the turn of the year.

In a Slack message reviewed by Yahoo Finance UK, Fforde said it was a “difficult decision” to leave and told staff Oyo was in “extremely capable hands.”

Fforde declined to comment over LinkedIn. A spokesperson for Oyo declined to comment.

Fforde’s departure comes after a round of layoffs at the UK business. Yahoo Finance UK reported last month that dozens of Oyo’s UK staff had been let go as part of a restructure. An insider said around 120 staff had left the business in recent weeks. At its peak, Oyo had over 500 staff in the UK.

Oyo’s UK job cuts are part of a global wave of layoffs as the businesses pivots from focusing on growth to profitability. The startup has recently laid off thousands of staff across India and China, according to Bloomberg, and the Financial Times reported that more than a third of US staff had been let go. Oyo said at the start of the month it was cutting another 5,000 jobs as the coronavirus crisis dents demand for travel and hotels globally.

Oyo was founded in India in 2013 by Ritesh Agarwal, who was 19-year-old a the time. It began as a way to book budget Indian hotel rooms online but has rapidly expanded to become a global business. It entered the UK market in late 2018 and has around 200 UK hotels on its platform.

Oyo has to date raised over $2.5bn (£2bn) of funding and employed more than 25,000 people worldwide at its peak. Its rapid growth has been fuelled in part by SoftBank (9984.T), the Japanese investment company.

SoftBank raised the largest ever venture capital fund in 2017, worth $100bn, and the company owns just under half of Oyo through the fund. Oyo was valued at $10bn as recently as last October in a transaction involving SoftBank.