Trade Me's new owners want to cut 20 per cent from the wage bill for its staff - which currently numbers close to 600 staff (it has claimed $4.1 million in wage subsidies for 591 employees).
"The pandemic has been incredibly hard on Kiwi businesses and many of the businesses that use Trade Me can't operate normally at this time, which in turn impacts how they use our services," chief executive Anders Skoe said.
"There is significant uncertainty around the outlook of these businesses and the wider New Zealand economy in the medium and longer-term.
"This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We don't want to lose any of our talented people but we need to make hard decisions to protect Trade Me's future as a business."
Anders wouldn't take questions on whether positions or salaries would be cut, or a mix of both.
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The cuts will be implemented on July 1, following a consultation period.
On March 3, Trade Me's new private equity owners - who paid $2.56 billion for the business - confirmed rumours of a restructure. They said "small number" of jobs could be lost.
Spokesman Logan Mudge disputed a tip-off to the Herald that "mass layoffs" were underway, including the longest-serving employee amid changes to job descriptions.
"Overall our headcount of approximately 600 will not change," Mudge said.
"But it does mean that some roles will change and a very small number of people may leave Trade Me if we can't find a new role for them."
But the situation has since deteriorated with the extended lockdown - which amplified existing problems caused by rising competition from the likes of Facebook Marketplace, Amazon and AliExpress.
Trade Me delisted from the NZX in April last year after the UK-based Apax Partners buyout.
The new owners installed Skoe - who had run a similar business in Scandinavia - as CEO shortly after the $2.56b deal closed, allowing his predecessor, John Macdonald, to make the exit he had been delaying for months as takeover talks dragged on.
The modus operandi of private equity outfits is often to buy a company, whip a company into shape then onsell it or return it to the stock exchange. And like many private equity deals, Trade Me's was reportedly highly-leveraged with the auction site's debt rising from a net $122m to a reported $1b.
Mudge said the restructure was very much business as usual, however.
"We continually assess how we're organised internally to make sure we're best set up to take on the challenges and opportunities in front of us.
"Change is inevitable in our industry. If we're going to be relevant and useful to Kiwis we need to evolve how we work and what we do."
And in a November interview with the Herald (when staff was pegged at 650), Skoe said he was in it for the long haul - or at least the medium-haul.
The new CEO said he spent three years turning around the Finn.no in his native Norway.
He said he hoped to do something similar at Trade Me - steer it back into the double-digit growth it once enjoyed.
On an allegation that a staffer who had been with the company for 16 years was offered the same redundancy as someone who had been there three months, Mudge said, "We can't get into specific cases but we're well known for looking after our employees above and beyond the law and the changes we're making this time will be no different.
"We're talking with our people about what this change means for them and doing our utmost to find an appropriate role for them at Trade Me wherever possible."
On a complaint that the new owners had increased costs for sellers, Mudge said, "Like all businesses, we review the pricing, packages and offers we provide to our customers. We believe we provide great bang for buck with what we offer."
Part of the new owners' approach has been to unwind Macdonald-era diversification.
In January, Trade Me said it has sold LifeDirect back to its former owner, financial adviser Mark Solomon. The deal is expected to close on April 1.
Trade Me said Solomon had offered 15 of the 18 LifeDirect staff new roles, and that it hoped to redeploy the three remaining staff.
New tech boss
Trade Me also recently raided Air New Zealand's ranks to hire its new chief technology officer, Paolo Ragone.
Ragone has previously worked on product and innovation at eBay, held the position of CTO at the eBay-owned Gumtree Australia, and most recently as CTO, general manager technology at Air New Zealand.
He will start at Trade Me at the end of May, replacing Simon Young, who has joined Peter Beck's smart-cow startup, Halter.