Booktopia CMO one of at least 30 redundancies at the online retailer

Steffen Daleng exits the books retailer after four-and-a-years as its marketing chief

Booktopia CMO, Steffen Daleng, is exiting the business as one of at least 30 staff redundancies as the online retailer works to restructure and improve its earnings.

In a statement, Daleng confirmed he is among 30-40 staff leaving the organisation after a four-and-a-half-year tenure as marketing chief. During that time, Booktopia has transitioned from a $110 million privately owned business to an ASX-listed organisation with annual revenue of $240.8 million.

Earlier this week, Booktopia announced it would be making between 30 to 40 staff redundant as part of a sweeping set of initiatives designed to deliver $12 - $15 million in improved earnings. The review of operations has also seen Booktopia adjust pricing to realise $2m-$3m in annual earnings improvements.

The company also said it’s optimised its advertising program to focus more on high-conversion channels, a move that is expected to save $1m -$2m per year. Other moves include selling off an investment in Welbeck ANZ, lease rationalization and a postage recovery program around recovering third-party delivery costs, achieving $4m - $5m in earnings improvement.

Daleng, who was recognised on the 2022 CMO50 list of Australia’s most innovative and effective marketing leaders, has spearheaded a number of significant programs as CMO. A longer-term, strategic initiative to his credit is growing traffic and brand awareness through partnerships. To do this, he’s led the overall partnership and affiliate strategy, with the goal of making the business less reliant on paid search while harnessing the power of brand distribution through partners.

Credit: Steffen Daleng

As Daleng noted in his CMO50 submission, overall revenues for the area have grown by 220 per cent since the strategy rollout and delivered an additional $11.8m in revenue over a year. Cost per sale decreased by 56 per cent in the same period.

Daleng described his time with Booktopia as “a fantastic adventure”. “A real page-turner with amazing characters and an excitingly changing story along the way,” he commented. “Now the story evolves and Booktopia starts a new chapter with different needs.

“With a new CEO entering the business soon and a restructure of its operating cost base and infrastructure, there will be a new lease of life in what is, and will continue to be, Australia's best destination to find stories and knowledge.”

Daleng said in leaving the business, he’s handing the marketing baton to the next generation and said he’ll “continue to be their biggest supporter”.

“I am grateful for the trust founder, Tony Nash put in me for all these years, and the time we had in growing Booktopia together to what it is today. I will continue to support him, acting CEO Geoff Stalley and the incoming CEO and executive team in the transition,” he continued.

“I continue to root for the Booktopia team as a shareholder and lover of retail and look forward to seeing the growth the team will achieve in the future.”

Booktopia reported a 7.5 per cent increase in revenue to $240.8 million in its last financial year statement to 30 June 2022, with average customer spend up 6.4 per cent to $134.94. Yet underlying EBITDA of $6.2 million was down from $13.6m a year earlier, after a mix of additional costs, legal fees and fines came into play.  

Among the extra costs was a $6m provision for penalties incurred as part of an ongoing court case between Booktopia and the ACCC around its allegedly misleading returns policy. The final figure was devised as part of an agreement reached between the two parties. Booktopia has been granted a five-year timeframe by the ACCC to pay the fine in instalments.

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