Source: Just Eat Takeaway.com

Joerg Gerbig, COO of Just Eat Takeaway.com

Just Eat was “late to the party” in grocery, but its focus is now on rolling out with major partners in the UK, the company’s COO has told The Grocer.

The move into grocery had long been ruled out by the CEO of Just Eat Takeaway.com (JET), Jitse Groen, who had bemoaned that “the [grocery] opportunity is relatively small” and that “there are no margins on grocery”.

JET COO Joerg Gerbig told The Grocer it had been “important to keep the company really focused. It’s hard to go left, right and centre.

“In the end, we’re following our customer. If our customer wants grocery products we want to provide them.”

While its rivals Deliveroo and Uber Eat secured deals with supermarkets and convenience chains early on in the pandemic, it is only in recent months Just Eat has followed suit. In December, Just Eat partnered with One Stop to offer a range of 500 products from 40 stores. January saw the start of its Asda trial, with 1,000 SKUs offered from five stores.

The “ideal scenario” was for these deals to be extended across store estates, and new major chains snapped up, Gerbig said.

“We have all the ingredients to help our partners grow their business,” he added. “So it’s a win-win situation. I would be surprised if we didn’t broaden it out.” 

Despite having to watch rivals strike partnerships with various supermarkets over the past two years, “in the long-run this will not matter too much” Gerbig said.

“If you are five months late, obviously you are annoyed if you sign a partner after someone else,” he said. “But we have a long-term perspective. Five years later it almost doesn’t matter any more if you came to the game a bit late. In the long run this will not matter too much.” 

While delivering from partner stores is JET’s preferred model, the company hasn’t ruled out launching the dark store model utilised by the rapid grocers in Europe.

In summer 2021, JET established launched dark stores in Canada under the Skip Express Lane brand. It is now opening 38 new fulfilment centres across the country, offering snacks and everyday essentials in less than 25 minutes.

While Gerbig questioned the unit economics of 15-minute grocery delivery services in Europe – saying “if you sell a Ferrari for €50k people will buy it” – he confirmed the company would “be testing here and there some dark stores” and “maybe in the UK”.

“It would be at limited scale at the beginning to see how things go,” he said.

Earlier this month, Just Eat in Spain signed an agreement with rapid player Gorillas in which Just Eat app users who order groceries through its platform will receive their orders from Gorillas delivery drivers.