Easee is in economic trouble
Norwegian wallbox manufacturer Easee, which made headlines this year for potential safety flaws, is in financial trouble. Founder Jonas Helmikstøl has stepped down as CEO, and more than half the workforce has been told to leave.
In February, a test by Elsälerhetverket, the Swedish authority for electrical safety, showed that contrary to the declaration, no classic RCD is installed in the widely used wallbox Easee Home. In addition, some EU declarations are said not to be fulfilled. As a result, it was shown that Easee had not installed a separate RCD in a DIN shaft, but had developed an innovative solution that was integrated into the overall system. The company insisted that this solution fulfils all the requirements of an RCD and is even safer due to the automatic checks. However, the Elsälerhetverket disagreed and imposed a sales ban – subsequently, due to EU requirements, there were further proceedings in other countries, some of which also ended in a provisional sales ban.
That affected the young company long-term. As the Norwegian portal Dagens Næringsliv reports, the company’s management has worked closely with financial advisors for months to cover its liquidity needs. Because even though some countries did not impose a sales ban, the accusations led consumers to look elsewhere for a wallbox.
Last weekend, the involved parties agreed on how to save Easee from insolvency. According to Dagens Næringsliv, existing investors will pay 60 million Norwegian kroner (5.23 million euros) in a new convertible loan. Easee confirms that Wiski Capital, Dristi Capital and Montin will provide the cash (along with the founding trio), but the exact distribution is not known. Previously, the newspaper said that the company had not been able to get a convertible loan of NOK 300 to 350 million (26 to 30.5 million euros) through brokers.
225 of 350 jobs are cut
In return, Easee co-founder Jonas Helmikstøl is giving up his post as managing director, but will remain with the company in an undisclosed role. But that does not apply to all employees. Part of the plan is that 225 of 350 employees will have to leave the company: 138 in Norway, 35 jobs will be cut in Germany, 30 in Great Britain, 17 in the Netherlands, and five in France. The CEO post is not to be filled until October.
“It hurts beyond description to say goodbye to so many wonderful people who gave their all to make Easee survive this. I did my best and worked harder than ever to prevent this, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. I am really sorry,” Helmikstøl is quoted as saying.
Nils Thomas Lien of investor Montin states in the statement that Easee has proven that it has a strong organisation and a product that the market wants.”We believe that the painful experience of the last few months will lead to Easee returning as a stronger and better company, and we want to be part of that, and that is why we are investing capital,” the investor said.
Easee says it is still working to reach an agreement with its remaining creditors. In parallel, a new documentation package is being prepared to secure “upcoming product launches.”
Helmikstøl founded Easee in 2018 together with Kjetil Næsje and Steffen Mølgaard and developed it into a highly profitable company. In 2022, Easee had a turnover of NOK 1.9 billion (€166 million) with a profit of almost NOK 200 million (€17.5 million). Since its foundation, more than 700,000 wallboxes have been sold in 23 countries.
On 1 August, there was also a change in management at Easee Germany: Marcel Jeron, who once founded the German branch, has left the company. As Managing Director of Easee Deutschland GmbH, Mara Steblow has been in charge since the beginning of the month. However, the change is unrelated to the incidents: The former savings bank manager has been at Easee Deutschland GmbH since June 2022 as People & Commercial Lead, and the transition had been “carefully prepared” over the past twelve months.