Last year, GoPuff acquired two smaller UK start-ups, Dija and Fancy before launching in Britain, and in November, Getir acquired Weezy. Gorillas, for its part, recently entered exclusive talks to buy France’s Frichti.
“It’s super easy to say ‘Okay, we need to grow at all costs,’ and you make a lot of mistakes,” says Sümer. He says several start-ups, in rushing to expand, chose the wrong places for warehouses, in the process picking fights with local communities.
Further deals are likely if a chill currently running through public tech markets translates into private valuations, but Sümer says he is confident that the company will be predator rather than prey. “The winners will begin consolidating the market because they will be the ones taking the money, and at the moment we are the European leader,” he says.
Rapid grocery apps have also faced questions about whether they can be profitable. In the UK, Gorillas charges a £1.80 delivery fee, although unlike restaurant apps like Deliveroo and UberEats, it is selling groceries directly, allowing it to take profit margins.
Sümer says the company has profitable warehouses in every country, and that 30pc of its business is at break-even. He also points to market data suggesting that the average order on its app is three times that of some competitors. In other words, its city-dwelling users are buying something closer to a weekly shop than an emergency avocado.
He is confident, too, that the model can work outside of built-up cities, despite the app’s initial focus on London urbanites. Gorillas has run trials in suburbs and smaller cities, and says it has found success especially among those for whom an off-licence is not merely round the corner, although it is questionable whether rural locations will ever be an option.
There are signs that the end of lockdowns is leading to declines in online grocery shopping in Britain. Aldi recently shut down deliveries through Deliveroo, and industry data showed internet sales fell 3.7pc year-on-year in December.