Well, that was short-lived. It was only in October that I outed the then stealthy Valk Fleet, a new food delivery and logistics startup from European online take-out behemoth Delivery Hero. However, the company has announced that it is closing down as part of a reorganisation by its owner.
This, I’m told, will see Delivery Hero “concentrate all delivery related operations at foodora,” the company’s on-demand food delivery service for high-end restaurants and competitor to London-headquartered Deliveroo.
Founded last May, and based in Germany and the U.K., Valk Fleet was a B2B offering that enabled independent restaurants and takeouts, as well as mass-market chains, to offer delivery via Valk Fleet’s pool of drivers and through its logistics tech, regardless of where those orders come from.
These could be via a restaurant’s own app/website or through one of the many online takeout aggregators, including Delivery Hero itself (called Hungryhouse in the U.K.) or any of its competitors, such as Just Eat.
In a statement, Niklas Östberg, CEO of Delivery Hero, says: “We have made some tough learnings when it comes to food logistics. Despite having built, possibly, the most advanced logistic tools in the industry, we have come to realize how concentrated the approach needs to be. We have therefore decided to focus all our logistics efforts to foodora. After having taken a couple of tough decisions lately, we now feel our operational structure is set to combine exceptional growth with profitability.”
Meanwhile, it’s not known how many of Valk Fleet’s current 200 or so employees, most of which are based in Germany and the U.K., will make the transition to Foodora. In addition, around 1,000 drivers, mostly contractors, had been working for Valk Fleet.
Could this be the first signs of an ‘on-demand delivery Winter’? Possibly, though my sources tell me that Valk Fleet had found it challenging almost from the get-go at its U.K. branch in what is a tricky and low-margin space and one that is already very crowded.
That’s seeing Deliveroo and Take Eat Easy battle for the custom of higher end restaurants, Jinn (which I’m hearing is on the verge of closing a Series A round) and Quiqup fighting over the ‘shop for and deliver anything’ space, the extremely well-funded Stuart going after local commerce, and Delivery Cube trying its hand at the very space Valk Fleet has exited. And I haven’t even mentioned Amazon or Uber.
Keep an eye on the weather.