Chinese company loses nearly all of its 300,000 'shared umbrellas'

Sharing E Umbrella has faced challenges when it comes to customers actually returning the brollies...

Chinese company loses nearly all of its 300,000 'shared umbrellas'

File photo. Picture by: Andy Wong/AP/Press Association Images

A Chinese company that recently introduced an 'umbrella sharing' scheme has already lost 'most' of its 300,000 brollies, local media has reported.

Sharing E Umbrella took inspiration from public bike schemes and other 'sharing economy' businesses.

The company's scheme, which launched in April and is now operating across 11 Chinese cities, allows customers to use an app to pay for use of an umbrella which are left in various public places.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), taking an umbrella requires a 19 yuan (€2.45) deposit and a fee of 0.50 yuan (around €0.06c) for every 30 minutes. When they pay, customers can 'unlock' the umbrella with a code.

However, the company is already said to have lost a majority of its initial 300,000 brollies, which cost the company around €8 each.

The problems with the service are said to revolve around challenges when it comes to customers actually returning the umbrellas.

Company founder Zhao Shuping told SCMP: "Umbrellas are different from bicycles. Bikes can be parked anywhere, but with an umbrella you need railings or a fence to hang it on."

Despite the expensive teething problems, the company is still hoping to offer 30 million umbrellas across the country by the end of the year.

Sixth Tone, however, reports that Sharing E Umbrella faces serious competition, with around 15 companies hoping to make a dent in the young 'shared umbrellas' market in China.