The COVID-19 pandemic was a veritable gold rush for food delivery startups — as the world shut down, people ordered in. These companies promised rapid delivery of groceries from local stores using bikes and scooters, and as demand skyrocketed, investors poured cash into the booming industry.
But now, amid soaring inflation and a post-pandemic downturn, the ‘quick commerce’ market is undergoing rapid consolidation with small companies being swallowed up by a few big players.
Founded in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, German-based grocery delivery startup Flink remains one of Europe’s last remaining independent grocery delivery groups. But that could be about to change: Turkish competitor Getir is in talks to acquire the startup, Financial Times reports.
The talks come just five months since Getir acquired Berlin-based rival Gorillas in a $1.2bn deal that valued the combined group at $10bn, making it Europe’s largest quick commerce company. Getir operates in around 50 cities across seven European countries, including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, and Portugal.
Parallel to the takeover talks, Flink is looking to raise $100m from existing investors at a valuation of $1bn for the entire company. This is a major departure from mid-2022, when the startup, which is still loss-making, was valued at $5bn.
Despite turbulent economic times and less demand from consumers, the startup’s core German business aims to become profitable by the end of this year. It also has subsidiaries in France and the Netherlands and hopes its overall business will be in the green by the end of 2024.
It is yet unclear how much Getir is willing to pay for Flink. There is no guarantee of an agreement being reached, either, said FT, citing people familiar with the matter. However, an eventual takeover could be streamlined by the fact that Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company holds a stake in both companies.
The merger would further consolidate Europe’s food delivery market, which has seen a number of major acquisitions in recent years. In addition to Getir’s blockbuster buy-out of Gorillas, it also acquired UK’s Weezy and Spain’s Blok in 2021, while US-based Gopuff bought British startups Dija and Fancy in the same year, and Flink acquired French startup Cajoo in 2022.
If the takeover is completed, Getir’s only competition in the European market would be GoPuff, which recently downsized and only operates in the UK and France. This would essentially give Getir a monopoly over rapid grocery delivery on the continent.
While Deliveroo and UberEats also offer grocery delivery, they have a different business model, relying on third-party shops while Getir has its own warehouses or dark stores, which offers a “competitive advantage”, says the company’s CEO. The only other potential competitor is Zapp, but it operates solely in London.
Despite its apparent success, Getir’s place at the top is anything but secure. The company is not yet profitable in Europe, and in May 2022 it has cut 14% of its global workforce, citing soaring inflation. But there is hope that as competition lessens the remaining big players like Getir will be able to cash in on demand for rapid grocery delivery, which still remains relatively high.
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