• Kyodo

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E-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. said Wednesday it will close online shopping sites in Britain, Spain and Austria by the end of August and will focus investment on Germany and France, where it anticipates growth.

It faces fierce competition in Europe and will consolidate its business base there, shedding around 100 employees across the three countries.

Rakuten has been reviewing its online shopping mall business overseas and has already shrunk in Southeast Asia, pulling out of Malaysia and Indonesia.

The e-commerce site operator began tapping into European markets mainly through mergers and acquisitions in roughly 2010.

Rakuten has not disclosed country-by-country customer figures, but with regard to Britain and Spain it blamed “the cost of growth relative to the size of the businesses” in its decision to pull out.

Rakuten will continue providing other services in Europe, including e-books, video streaming and messaging apps.

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