Online auction site Wheedle, the only significant competitor to Trade Me in New Zealand, is to close after its sole funder Neil Graham decided against further investment in the company.
“I’ve supported the company financially since its inception but, as part of a rationalisation of my investments, I’ve decided it’s time to move on,” Mr Graham says. “Ongoing health issues have also contributed to my decision.
“Our aim was to create a commercially successful site where people could buy and sell online without costing users an arm and a leg. More than 80,000 members backed us and we’re very proud of that achievement.
“I’m sad to see it go but the reality is we’ve taken the idea as far as we can. A managed wind down is the sensible option.”
Graham said all auctions currently in progress will run their course, and all membership fees will be paid in full and are redeemable online.
“We have no trade creditors and we will work through any contract issues with service providers. The Wheedle team today have received paid notice and are assisting in the orderly wind up of the company.”
Mr Graham says the systems developed to deliver the service involve a state-of-the-art, secure e- commerce platform. Specialist transaction advisory firm Ocean Partners is managing the sales process and is in discussion with two parties interested in all or part of the company and its technology. This may hold out some hope for re-employment of existing staff.
“I continue to believe,” says Graham, “that New Zealand should have a choice when it comes to online trading and that listing fees should be fair and reasonable. We also think the Wheedle business model of a paid membership and set fees has potential, but we’ve been unable to make it work within a realistic time frame.”
“This has been a bit of a personal crusade for me – the name Wheedle come from a phrase my grandmother used all the time and I’ve invested millions into the venture. There were doubters from the start, but we’ve given it our best shot, created a large group of satisfied customers and built some very interesting technology. But I’m afraid the business has run its course in its present form,” Mr Graham says.
NOTE: Wheedle members who wish to redeem their outstanding balances should go to www.wheedle.co.nz and a link will be available for you to register for a refund in due course.