Xiaomi Corp, one of China’s biggest smartphone makers, has begun mass layoffs, slashing up to 15 percent of its workforce, a Hong Kong-based newspaper has reported, citing social media posts and Chinese media.
Social media platforms such as Weibo, Xiaohongshu and Maimai have been flooded with posts by laid-off employees, with the layoffs taking place in several units of the company’s smartphone and internet services business, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday.
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Xiaomi had 35,314 staff as of September 30, the paper reported, the vast majority of them based in mainland China.
The layoffs, if confirmed, would affect thousands of workers, many of whom recently joined the company following a hiring spree that began last year.
A Xiaomi spokesperson did not comment on the reported layoffs directly but said the company had undergone routine streamlining.
“Xiaomi recently implemented routine personnel optimisation and organisational streamlining, with affected parties totalling less than 10 percent of total workforce,” the spokesperson told Al Jazeera. “Those affected have been compensated in compliance with local regulations.”
The reported layoffs come just months after the smartphone maker announced audacious plans to challenge Apple’s dominance in high-end smartphones.
In February, Xiaomi chief executive Lei Jun said Xiaomi was in a “war” with Apple and had set its sights on becoming China’s biggest high-end brand in the next three years.
Xiaomi in November reported a 9.7 percent fall in third-quarter revenue amid China’s harsh “zero-COVID” pandemic restrictions and weakening consumer demand. Smartphone revenues, which account for 60 percent of total sales, fell 11 percent year-on-year, Xiaomi said.
Xiaomi enjoyed a surge in sales in 2021 as Washington-imposed sanctions hobbled Huawei Technologies’s business in the United States, before reporting its first-ever quarterly decline in revenue in May.
With Xiaomi’s stock price tumbling nearly 50 percent since the beginning of the year, the company has sought out new areas for growth. Those efforts include a foray into electric vehicles, with mass production scheduled to begin in 2024.