Bossa Nova Robotics, a US-based developer of inventory control robots for retailers, has shut down its European business unit.
Headquartered in Sheffield, UK, Bossa Nova Robotics Europe has had its funding stopped from its parent company and has entered into administration.
The European unit was reportedly in late-stage pilots with several major UK retailers and advanced discussions with a major retailer to begin multi-store trials when the announcement was made.
Red McKay, former European managing director, said he personally tried to raise investment due to interest from customers in the UK and Europe, however the coronavirus pandemic led to a big drop in shoppers in stores and a switch of focus to operations in the warehouse.
“There is a future for the technology and Covid-19 is accelerating the need and development of the product, but for now Bossa Nova in Europe is in our past rather than the future.
“I think warehouse inventory management and movement has been the priority due to a rapid pivot from just 8% of UK consumers shopping online to some estimate saying over 80%.”
As previously reported by Robotics & Innovation, in November 2020, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, ended its partnership with Bossa Nova Robotics.
A significant reversal from plans announced in January 2020 to expand deployments of Bossa Nova’s robots from 500 to 1,000 stores, Walmart said it had “found different, sometimes simpler solutions that proved just as useful”.
According to The Wall Street Journal, this decision forced Bossa Nova Robotics to reduce its workforce by 50%.
According to a Notice of Administrator’s Proposals, the end of Bossa Nova’s relationship with Walmart and Covid-19 played major roles in the closing of the European division. It read:
“The pandemic had an immediate impact on the retail industry with many retails seeing changes in demand and having to adapt to government imposed restrictions, as a result, many USA customers withdrew their orders.
“With uncertain trading conditions and a significant decline in demand, the [parent company]made the decision [to]cease all funding with immediate effect, accordingly, [Bossa Nova Robotics Europe’s] new finance agreement was withdrawn.”
After February 2020, the European operation continued with a reduced workforce for six months. However, with mounting debt being owed to creditors, it was determined the business was no longer sustainable.
According to the Notice of Administrator’s Proposals, the company lost £1,036,147 for the year ended 31 December 2019 and £466,705 for the seven-month period ended 31 December 2018. The 10 employees working at the UK office were terminated.
Bossa Nova Robotics Europe was incorporated on 23 May 2018. The UK office opened in October 2018.