New York Dot-Com Urbanfetch Lays Off 2% of Staff

Urbanfetch.com Inc., a New York-based online personal delivery service, has laid off 2% of its New York workers, after cutting 18 workers in its London offices several months ago.

A spokeswoman today confirmed the layoffs occurred last week but wouldn't specify how many workers were affected.

Despite the layoffs, business is good at the company, the spokeswoman said, with new product lines recently added for business supplies and wine.

The service offers a varied selection of items online, with free delivery guaranteed in one hour, 24 hours per day, according to the company's Web site.

The layoffs follow rumors two weeks ago that Urbanfetch.com was being sought by its larger rival, Kozmo.com Inc., another online quick delivery service.

Officials at both companies continued to insist that any acquisition remains in the rumor stages, and they refused to comment.

Adam Braunstein, a senior research analyst at Robert Frances Group in Westport, Conn., said the layoffs at Urbanfetch don't come as a surprise.

"Just because you're putting a company online doesn't mean you are going to be a hit," Braunstein said. "Urbanfetch, in my opinion, is not a new idea. They're a messenger service," with plenty of entrenched brick-and-mortar competitors in New York. And many of those existing delivery and messenger services already have dedicated client pools, Braunstein said, making it difficult for a newcomer to get a toehold.

"I don't know if there was necessarily room in the New York market" for the delivery start-up, he said. The only new feature brought to the marketplace by the company appears to be its online availability, he said, which is unlikely to be enough for a successful business plan.

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