Delivery Hero Returns to Germany to Take on Uber, Just Eat

Delivery Hero SE plans to re-enter its home market of Germany next month, taking on Just Eat NV less than three years after it ended an expensive rivalry by selling its local operations to the Dutch competitor.

Delivery Hero will start to roll out the Foodpanda brand in its home city of Berlin in June, potentially expanding to other regions by the start of a wider launch in August, Chief Executive Officer Niklas Oestberg said in an interview.

Oestberg said a lot has changed for the company since the 2018 decision to exit Germany, with a solidified international presence in Asia and new products such as grocery delivery. Meanwhile, customers who are increasingly comfortable ordering online delivery after the pandemic lockdowns have provided an opportunity, he said.

“Now we feel like we can come back with a much, much better service,” Oestberg said. “I don’t think we would have entered Germany if we felt everything has been built.”

Shares of Delivery Hero fell as much as 3.3% in Frankfurt, while Just Eat stock fell as much as 3.8% to 76.34 euros, the lowest since March.

The rivalry in Germany has only become stronger since Delivery Hero made the decision to leave. Uber Technologies Inc. said last month it would also expand in Europe’s largest economy, following a similar move last year by smaller Finnish rival Wolt.

On Wednesday, Just Eat moved to bolster its service in Germany by opening up grocery delivery via its Lieferando app to more than 12 million users. It’s also investigating a similar approach in markets such as the U.K. and the Netherlands, the company said in a statement.

Still, Oestberg said Delivery Hero should be able to take market share with a broad range of delivery options, including groceries and convenience goods, in as fast as seven minutes. He said market leader Just Eat -- which is focused on restaurant delivery and hasn’t yet closed its acquisition of GrubHub Inc. -- is “in a challenged moment.”

Analysts at Jefferies said Just Eat’s lack of broader delivery options were leaving it vulnerable to competition even as it begins to test a grocery service. “There is now evidence to suggest those small trials must now be accelerated,” they wrote in a report.

After selling out of Germany, Delivery Hero turned its focus to Asia. The company recently bought a controlling stake in South Korean rival Woowa Brothers Corp., and said in the latest quarterly update that it expects revenues this year to surge with a planned expansion of its “dark stores,” warehouses that stock groceries and household goods, and growth into new markets in Asia.

Delivery Hero Returns to Germany to Take on Uber, Just Eat

Shares in Delivery Hero are trading up nearly 30% over the past year and in January the company sold shares to raise as much as $1.6 billion for potential deals.

Delivery Hero has already begun to sign on restaurants in Germany and expects to hire hundreds of people initially for its team and as couriers. Oestberg said it’s unclear what kind of labor model Delivery Hero will use for the couriers. Uber plans to contract out its delivery riders to third-party suppliers.

“It’s always a big advantage of being in a home market -- you test your product every day,” Oestberg said. “In order to build a world-class service, it helps to eat your own food.”

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