Who’d want to buy cash-hungry Gorillas? Why, rapid grocery rival Getir, that’s who, according to Bloomberg, which reports the companies are in advanced talks about an acquisition.

After a flurry of quick-commerce minnows being snapped up over the last year, if the transaction goes through it will be the first major merger in the still-burgeoning sector.

And that’s precisely what the struggling channel desperately needs.

“There needs to be some focus on M&A to make the market sustainable,” says Quaid Combstock, Jiffy’s former head of delivery operations and now a q-commerce consultant.

No rapid grocery company is profitable. At most, they claim a dark store or two runs profitably, but the majority do not.

It’s all down to order density. What’s necessary for money to be made is a high number of customers in an area around the dark store that can be reached by riders in a reasonable amount of time (which used to be 15 minutes, but has now lengthened to typically under half an hour).

“In simple terms, q-commerce can be profitable if the same rider is taking multiple orders and delivering them in or around the same vicinity,” explains Combstock. “This drives down the travel time between each order, thus heavily reducing the labour cost to the company.

“The biggest problem preventing this from happening is that there is too much competition in the market. There may be enough order density among the industry, but the orders are being split between too many companies, thus there is not enough density per company,” he adds.

Combstock says he once saw Getir, Gorillas, GoPuff and Zapp “all delivering to different houses on the same street at the same time”. Proof the demand is there, but with an oversupply of services.

So a major acquisition could make good sense. Getir would acquire all Gorillas’ customers and volume (they share six markets globally) and could serve them from its existing dark stores.

The timing of the advanced talks could be considered a little strange. Having been in hyper-growth mode for some time – through the heady days of 2021 when venture capitalists ploughed $5bn into the sector, according to PitchBook data – more recently the rapid grocers have shed staff and closed dark stores as they seek the ‘path to profitability’ demanded by restless investors.

“This is definitely a surprising move for Getir. But it fits into the ‘path to profitability’ in a non-linear way,” says Nishant Shrikhande, senior e-commerce analyst at Kantar. “Gorillas has expanded at greater scale than Getir in the UK and Germany, so it is likely Getir sees this purchase as a long-term play.”

But the timing is also good for Getir. Gorillas – whose chief operating officer told The Grocer in July “we are not a struggling company” – is a struggling company.

It has found it increasingly difficult to raise cash. And it is burning a lot of it. Valued at £5bn in its last funding round, according to rapid grocery expert Brittain Ladd: “the cash burn rate at Gorillas was the highest I’ve ever seen in any industry from any company.”

Getir has had more success raising money and has a valuation more than double that of Gorillas.

Adds Combstock: “I bet Getir will be able to acquire them for a steal – most investors will want to exit at a minor loss, rather than the company going under entirely.”

Further, Gorillas has already done the messy work of cutting staff and pulling out of hopeless markets to focus on Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands and the US, from which 90% of its revenue comes.

“Getir must believe they can operate efficiently in these countries and become profitable through operating in them,” Shrikhande said. “While that profitability may not happen in the next year, or maybe even two years, as we look to 2025 and beyond Getir must think these countries are key.”

Getir is understood not to be the only rapid player wanting to purchase Gorillas. But, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, it is more driven than others. Indeed there is understood to be bad blood between Getir and Gorillas CEO Kagan Sumer, stretching back to his days as a consultant in Istanbul, working with Getir. There are some at the company that “would love nothing more” than to “kill the Gorillas brand”.

It’s a dog eat gorilla world.