Gorillas, Getir, Flink… Pitched battle between “fast trade” troublemakers

A typical small square in the center of Paris. On the sidewalk, in the shade of the plane trees, four messengers are sitting on their bicycles. Behind them, the opaque black window of a shop located on the ground floor of a Haussmann building suggests a small anthill. Shielded from the eyes of neighbors, the men are busy backstage preparing groceries to be delivered within a quarter of an hour. The “beep-beep” terrifies the iPad of a preparer who receives an order in his app, when another colleague is already wandering the stacked shelves (from 2000 to 3000 references) to find milk, water and fresh fruit, the most demanded products. In less than ten minutes, the courier collects the paper bag, puts it in the refrigerated backpack, gets on the electric bike and will deliver the customer domiciled a few dozen meters from this dark store.

Deliverers on permanent contracts and cash-laden platforms

Like this individual, there are thousands of them ordering their food purchases every night on specialized shopping apps. fast trade that smelled good with the pandemic. “Our company was born in Germany two years ago, in the midst of the Covid context. In April 2021, we opened our first Parisian store in the Bastille. Since then, we have 25 in France, where an average of 30 couriers work, all of whom are hired by the CDI”, explains Pierre Guionin, general manager of Gorillas France, self-proclaimed leader of this new business. difference with platforms like Uber Eats or Deliveroo. “This economic model therefore requires quickly reaching a critical size to buy your products as cheaply as possible, but also to amortize the social cost. With 50 orders a day per warehouse, they will never be profitable,” warns Clément Genelot, Retail & E-Commerce Analyst at Bryan, Garnier & Co.

Couriers await deliveries in front of the new Auchan store in central Paris

Couriers await deliveries in front of the new Auchan store in central Paris

SP // The Express

This equation did not escape Pierre Guionin. That’s why this Triathlon-loving, Groupon-trained lawyer doesn’t have a minute to lose. When he’s not pedaling to make sure the service is running well ahead of the weekend, he’s on the lookout for market opportunities. And they don’t miss this “Covid” sector so much native” is in full swing. Over the past twelve months, Pierre Guionin has partnered with the Casino group to offer Monoprix-branded products on its app; it has also doubled down on Deliveroo by stealing its place as sponsor of Paris-Saint-Germain and its armada of football stars against an annual check of more than 5 million euros (until 2024).

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Finally, the German unicorn swallowed the French pioneer of home meal delivery, Frichti (60 million euros in revenue in 2021) whole. The value is confidential, but Gorillas is said to have valued it at “about 250 million euros”, according to a well-known expert in the sector. A nice check, inflated by the urgency to grow at all costs, but also by the need to occupy its paid delivery men beyond the rush of the night. Furthermore, the German group has the means to operate this lightning attack. The company created by Turkish businessman Kagan Sumer raised 1 billion euros at the end of 2021 and may try to go public in 2023.

“The slowdown of the pandemic does not slow down activity”

That is to say if the growth of the sector is dizzying. In Paris alone in 2021, ten platforms launched their service, investors’ pockets full of dollars crumbling under the easy money of financial markets. This is how Getir (12 billion euros in valuation), Cajoo, Flink (5 billion), Gopuff (40 billion), Kol, Yango Deli and Bam Courses, with their eco-friendly deliveries (by bicycle or electric scooter), landed in the capital with great bursts of mass communication, reminiscent of the methods of their cousins ​​of hybrid bikes and electric scooters. A parallel all the more tempting as several leaders of these shared mobility services have just joined the platforms of fast trade.

If the concept of delivery in less than fifteen minutes can, as such, raise philosophical questions, what is its real potential? “In France, the fast trade it weighed 150 million euros in turnover in 2021. We should end the year 2022 around 300 million euros. It will double every year, and the slowdown of the pandemic is not slowing down activity, because not all layers of consumers have been penetrated yet”, analyzes Emmanuelle Peltier, director of IRI, a business intelligence company. “In Paris, 10% of residents have already tried one of these services, but the rate drops to 4% for the entire Ile-de-France. There is still room for improvement. Quick traders nibble on local supermarket customers with an average basket up to 7% cheaper depending on the brand,” adds Emmanuelle Peltier. fast trade exceeds the urban delivery activity of Leclerc, Monoprix and other Carrefours.

This explains why the big players in distribution are watching these competitors like milk on fire. Last September, Carrefour was invited to a €40 million roundtable led by French nugget Cajoo, which has since benefited from access to the French giant’s purchasing hub. But, as everything happens very fast in the fast trade, six months after this operation, another German player, Flink, bought Cajoo (about 100 million euros) and accelerated the consolidation of the sector. “Retailers are in a wait-and-see position. dark blinds became very tall. And if they launched a service on their own, that would provoke the ire of franchisees in the city center”, deciphers the specialist Clément Genelot. whether with two or three players”, thinks Pierre Guionin of Gorillas, large distribution is proceeding with caution: urban “click & collect” stores (in Lille and Paris).

“Let’s hit hard”, warns Paris City Council

Still, all these little people have to make their way in an urban environment where space is a rare commodity. At the foot of the buildings, residents start calling the delivery people because of the inconvenience. Platforms continue to seek space (less than 500 square meters) as close to the population as possible, which drives up commercial rents. “Certain Parisian store locations transformed into dark blinds have seen their prices multiplied by six in the last few months”, says a specialist real estate agent. Therefore, inevitably, the Paris City Council monitors the matter. And the current goes badly. “These companies have enormous capital that allows them to stop a total war , also practicing significant social dumping [NDLR : des cas de travail dissimulés sont en cours d’instruction]. They behave like cowboys. So, yes, let’s hit hard”, warns Emmanuel Grégoire, Anne Hidalgo’s first runner-up.

Of the 64 checks carried out by the services of the Paris City Council, 42 dark shops are already in breach.

Of the 64 checks carried out by the services of the Paris City Council, 42 dark shops are already in breach.

Ramon van Flymen ANP via AFP

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The municipality has started an inventory and is sending its inspectors to verify the compliance of the facilities with the local urban plan. “In Paris, there is a simple rule. With the exception of concierges, having a warehouse in a residential building is prohibited. However, based on 64 checks carried out by our services, 42 dark blinds are already in violation. The minutes were sent to the courts”, says Emmanuel Grégoire. According to our information, the first fines will be sent in the next few days. The platforms risk an administrative fine of 500 euros per day and per store (ceiling of 25,000 euros in civil cases, offenders incur a fine of 1,200 to 6,000 euros per square meter and six months in prison in case of recidivism.


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