Instant grocery startup Getir makes its first acquisition to expand into Spain and Italy

Getir, the startup based out of Turkey that has built a $7.5 billion business out a mobile app that lets consumers buy groceries and get them delivered in minutes, has grown its business up to now organically: targeting urban markets across Europe (and soon the U.S.) where it is disrupting the well-stocked cornershop with a service that needs even less effort and time from the average shopper. Now, it’s changing up that strategy with its first acquisition to break into three more countries.

The company is acquiring Blok, another “instant delivery” grocery service based out of Barcelona. Financial of the deal are not being disclosed but from what I understand, Blok (previously called Huvi Technologies) was bootstrapped, fairly new and small (launching only in February 2021), and was already shopping itself around.

Founded by Vishal Verma, Hunab Moreno and Varun Kapoor, Blok is active in Spain and Italy, where its biggest markets were Madrid, Barcelona and Milan. Portugal was on its roadmap pre-Getir, and it will also launch there soon. More than 120 employees will be joining Getir as part of the deal.

Getir has been around since 2015 and is profitable in Turkey on a mix of services that started with its fast delivery but has since expanded to other categories like wider grocery options (GetirMore, with longer delivery turnarounds), restaurant delivery (GetirFood), local business delivery (GetirLocals), and… water delivery (GetirWater).

That’s given Getir momentum it is now using to expand its flagship fast grocery model into other markets like the UK — I see its mopeds around my neighborhood in London all the time — the Netherlands, and Paris and Berlin. The hundreds of millions that it’s raised this year (Getir has raised about $1 billion in total now) will also be used to get the company into the U.S. market, where it will go head to head with homegrown rivals in the same space such as GoPuff.

But while it may be one of the earliest movers and possibly the best capitalised, Getir is by no means the only player of its kind.

The European market is positively flush right now with startups that are building services around the same basic principles of super-fast delivery across an assortment of around 1,500 goods — typically much smaller than what you might find in a grocery store (17,000 is a normal number there), and closer to what you might get in the kind of quick-stop small market that exists throughout urban centers in Europe.

These startups, which include Flink, Gorillas, Glovo, Zapp, Dija, Cajoo, Weezy and many others have collectively raised hundreds of millions of dollars — but still less than $2 billion, Getir CEO and co-founder Nazim Salur estimated to me — to scale their operations.

Take up has been fairly enthusiastic, in part fueled by the pandemic and the fact that many people have been living under stay-at-home orders, or simply keen to stay out of public places to minimize Covid-19 spread; but also fueled in part by getting good traction with millennial and other younger consumers, who have really taken to using their mobiles for all practical chores, which get turned into leisure activities when they become apps.

Before Covid, Getir was seeing threefold growth annually, with some years, such as 2017, the company growing fivefold, Salur said. “During Covid we also grew 5x but without it, it would have been 4x. It accelerated our growth but Covid is not the main reason people use us. It’s mainly because we’re a big convenience. It means we can grow. In Turkey, life’s back to normal but every month we still grow.”

Still, is it a big enough market for all these players? We’ve already heard of at least one that is struggling to raise more to compete — capital is key, given the balance of logistics and delivery, dark stores to stock items, having the items themselves to sell, not to mention the heavy competition — and is looking for a buyer as a result.

In that context, it might not be a surprise to hear that Blok hadn’t raised any notable funding itself and while it had built out some technology and a team of people, it was ready to sell up less than six months after launching.

“We are very excited to join hands with the pioneers of ultrafast delivery on our shared goal to lead the on-demand grocery market in Southern Europe,” said Verma from Block, in a statement. “This acquisition allows us to leverage Getir’s deep industry know-how, relationships and technology, while combining that with our world class team and execution capabilities to create a formidable leader in this part of the world. We’ve had a great response from all our launches in Spain and Italy and can’t wait to double down on our efforts alongside Getir.”

But despite this pretty obvious picture of consolidation-in-the-making, Getir isn’t going to get into the business of consolidating all that, though — well, not yet, at least.

“Getir will not become an acquisition company, acquiring one after the other. That’s not the way we operate,” Salur, who co-founded the company with Serkan Borancili and Tuncay Tutek, said in an interview. “But, it’s a free market and if there is a good reason, a solid good reason, we might consider it. We won’t be going after ten different companies in this world, but if the right opportunity shows itself we’ll talk to people.”