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Coupang's operating loss narrows in Q1

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By Kim Jae-heun

Coupang reduced its operating loss in the first quarter of the year for the first time since it went public in March 2021, while breaking another sales record as well.

Coupang founder Kim Bom
Coupang founder Kim Bom
Its operating loss fell to $209.2 million, less than half the $449.7 million (580.1 billion won) reported in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to a regulatory filing revealed by the company, Thursday.

Korea's largest e-commerce firm's sales showed $5.11 billion between January and March, up by 32 percent from the same period last year. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the sales reached $5.07 billion.

"In South Korea, the product e-commerce segment grew 8 percent compared to a year ago, while Coupang's growth rate was nearly four times that, at 30 percent," Coupang founder Kim Bom said during an earnings call on Wednesday.

"There continue to be lots of unpredictable variables in the short term related to the reopening, but the long-term trajectory is very clear to us. In any scenario, we will continue to grow significantly faster than the e-commerce segment and continue to gain shares across all categories."

The company said its efforts to improve profitability paid off in resulting loss reduction.

"Coupang's sales growth was two times more than that for the domestic e-commerce market in the first quarter," a Coupang official said. "We are expecting to achieve the same business performance over the next few years."

After revealing its sales and operating profit, Coupang's share price soared by 21 percent in after-hours trading. The e-commerce firm's share price closed at $9.67 on Thursday, $0.91 down from the previous day. Its stock price has fallen by more than 72 percent compared to the public offering price of $35.

Coupang also raised its membership price recently for both newcomers and existing customers to improve its profitability.

Coupang had frozen its membership price since its launch in 2008. Its users had been enjoying a variety of benefits from free delivery service to unconditional refunds within 30 days and complimentary access to Coupang Play for 2,900 won until the recent price hike. The increase was blamed on the accumulating losses of the e-commerce firm.

Kim Jae-heun

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