Just Eat’s UK revenue was up 42% last year with its investment in the territory beginning to pay off, CEO Jitse Groen has told analysts and investors.

Following the publication of Just Eat Takeaway’s full year results for 2020, Groen said the business had put “tremendous effort” into improving the UK business, which has seen an 88% increase in order growth during the first two months of 2021, and delivery orders up 600%, over the same comparable period in 2020. 

“We doubled our sales force and signed partnerships with leading restaurant chains which has led to a surge in both delivery and marketplace orders,” he said.

“The UK renaissance has become apparent to our followers and I’m convinced this only marks the beginning of our journey,” added Groen.

He said that relative market share in the UK remained stable during the pandemic, with current trading very strong.

Just Eat has seen an 88% increase in order growth year-on-year, during the first two months of 2021, and delivery orders up 600% over the same comparable period in 2020, and management expect to increase market share in the UK this year.

Groen said the vast majority of orders come from existing users, who are very loyal, but that it had been able to add record numbers of new consumers during the year.

In terms of the impact of Covid on the overall business, he admitted that it had meant restaurants without delivery couriers had rapidly shifted to food delivery channels, but he said Just Eat had also achieved strong growth in its core marketplace division.

He said the delivery market would get “the bulk of the hangover” from Covid, when consumers return to dining in restaurants. “Given we have more marketplace orders than delivery, and that delivery orders are growing much faster than the rest of the market, we expect to outgrow most of our competitors in 2021,” he said.

“The penetration upside is significant and we believe that coronavirus accelerated the adoption of online food delivery, for both consumers and restaurants, but ultimately we see signs that for us this will lead to further sustainable growth.”

Protecting its riders

On the call, COO Jörg Gerbig also spoke about the roll out of its courier model Scoober, which is now in London and Paris.

Gerbig said the full-employed courier model meant that its riders receive more than the minimum wage, get benefits such as sick pay and holiday pay, and are provided with eco-friendly bikes.

He said the delivery industry was increasingly under scrutiny and subject to regulations looking to protect workers’ rights and safety.

“We have seen landmark legal decisions in the UK and Netherlands […] which reinforces our view that the gig economy in European markets is not sustainable in its current form,” said Gerbig.

He believes Just Eat has a real competitive advantage by having a model that is believes is fully compliant with local labour laws and at the same time showing similar economics as its competition.