Uber launches rapid grocery delivery service in Paris

The Uber Eats logo is displayed on a smartphone.

Holly Adams | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON – Uber is taking over European grocery delivery startups with a Paris-based service that ships essential items to shoppers’ doors in less than 15 minutes.

The American company for transportation and food delivery services said that it has expanded its partnership with the French supermarket chain Carrefour to launch the service, which is called Carrefour Sprint. It will be available on the Uber Eats app starting Tuesday.

Rather than sending couriers to Carrefour stores, Uber relies on a network of so-called dark shops – small warehouses where freight pickers and packers prepare orders for delivery – operated by French startup Cajoo.

Carrefour partnered with Cajoo earlier this year to help them offer their express delivery service. The retail group is also a minority shareholder in Cajoo.

Europe has recently seen a flood of emerging grocery startups, spurred by surging demand during the coronavirus pandemic and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment capital.

Turkey’s Getir raised $550 million at a $7.5 billion valuation in June, while Germany’s Gorillas recently completed a $1 billion funding round led by food delivery company Delivery Hero, valuing the company at $3.1 billion.

In Paris, Uber will come face-to-face with Getir, Gorillas, British startup Zapp and Russian tech giant Yandex.

European food delivery companies are also taking part in the event, with UK-based Deliveroo launching its own express grocery delivery service in partnership with retailer Morrisons.

Critics have said that express grocery delivery companies will struggle to become sustainable businesses due to the high costs required to expand and compete with existing major retailers.

Uber has been pushing deeper into food and grocery delivery over the past year as demand for its ride-sharing business has dropped dramatically due to the Covid-19 shutdown.

Uber said its new partnership with Carrefour will allow users to order nearly 2,000 daily necessities including fruits, vegetables, dry goods and cleaning supplies. Cajoo stocks items in nine of its darkened stores in the French capital.

Earlier this year, the two companies partnered to allow users to order groceries online from nearly 2,000 stores. Uber said it plans to expand the Carrefour Sprint in other French cities including Lyon, Bordeaux and Toulouse in the coming weeks.

“Over the past 18 months, people have increasingly come to expect fast, reliable delivery of everyday essentials to their doorstep,” said Eve Henrikson, regional general manager, Uber Delivery EMEA. “In Europe alone, we have seen a triple increase in the demand for groceries delivery.”

Uber has a similar deal with GoPuff in the US that aims to deliver the basics within minutes. Meanwhile, Gopuff is working to expand its express grocery delivery service internationally, having bought British rival Dija in August for an undisclosed amount.

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