Coronavirus: restaurants are “hurting”, says the head of Deliveroo

Restaurants “are hurting” because of the coronavirus pandemic, the head of food courier Deliveroo told the BBC.

“Even if restrictions are lifted soon, there will be a long period of socially distant meals,” said Will Shu.

Deliveroo has expanded its customer base in the UK, with coronavirus accelerating the adoption of delivery applications, he said.

Speaking to the BBC Today program, Shu said that “the Covid-19 really marked a new era of delivery”.

“Since we started Deliveroo, there has been incredible adoption for online applications and applications. But I think Covid-19 anticipated this consumer behavior by about one to three years.”

“On the other hand, our restaurant partners are suffering,” he said.

Although restaurants may reopen in England on July 4, with social distance measures in place, Shu said he believes “there will be an increase in demand for delivery and collection”.

Deliveroo's Will Shu
Source: BBC

Technology companies like Deliveroo “need to develop better tools for restaurants to operate safely and profitably,” said Shu.

It comes when Deliveroo launches a new feature called “Table Service”. From July 15th, UK users will be able to order food and pay via the Deliveroo app when they dine at participating restaurants, cafes or pubs.

The company says it aims to facilitate social distance when eating out.

“This is an important safety feature to give consumers confidence that they can return to restaurants safely and for restaurant staff, who will be able to work while minimizing personal contact,” Deliveroo said in a statement.

Hospitality industry issues

The company had previously spoken out about the problems the hospitality industry faces during the pandemic.

In June, Deliveroo organized a letter, signed by its partner restaurants, including Itsu and Pret A Manger, warning that the industry faces massive job cuts without further assistance.

The action called for the reduction of VAT on restaurant meals and the maintenance of the job retention regime for restaurants while social distance measures were in place.

The government has issued advice for bars, restaurants and cafes in England that are expected to reopen from 4 July. They were encouraged to keep a record of customer details to help track and trace the spread of Covid-19 infections.

Customers will also be encouraged to book in advance, in addition to ordering food and drink directly from their tables through apps.

However, Kate Nicholls, executive director of UKHospitality, asked companies on Sunday to get tired of buying expensive apps.

“There will be a lot of ambulance searches on the apps if we’re not careful,” she said.

“We saw a lot of technology companies coming up and saying, ‘If you pay us for a quick fix, we can create an app for you.’

“I am afraid that companies will be enticed to pay more for a technological solution before we know what the government is really asking us to do,” said Nicholls.

Deliveroo says that restaurants using its new “Table Service” feature will not receive commission.

Building the business

Speaking to the BBC Today program, Shu added that, although the company has recently expanded its customer base in the UK, the hospitality sector was not “profitable”.

“We were needing to invest in building this business,” he said.

Last week, the UK competition control body said it no longer had concerns about Amazon’s plan to invest in food delivery services.

Internet giant Amazon announced plans to buy 16% from Deliveroo in May 2019.

The Competition and Markets Authority was initially concerned that the £ 440 million deal would prevent Amazon from launching a rival company, which would increase competition and possibly lower prices for consumers, but later changed its mind.

“This is the most consumer-obsessed company in the world and we are really proud to get investments from it,” said Shu.

“It is a huge boost of confidence in the UK technology sector and Deliveroo.”

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