Uber Eats is gearing up for its next phase of expansion which will include a new target to operate in 100 cities across the UK and Ireland by the end of the year, MCA has learnt.

Toussaint Wattinne, Uber Eats UK general manager, told MCA that the food delivery platform had already launched virtual restaurants with operator partners, which leverage insights into consumer demand to launch distinct new brands and menus within existing kitchens.

Wattine said the ultimate goal of Uber Eats was to make a daily use case to consumers, by being the most diverse, relevant on-demand food app, and the preferred partner for operators.

He said this could be achieved by continuing to expand choice on the app, which would form stronger consumer habits, as well as reach a lower pricepoint by using technology and data-enabled efficiencies to optimise cuisine and geographical locations.

Defending commission rates, Wattinne argued Uber Eats was adding value to restaurant operators, by helping maximise existing assets and capacity, and providing untapped data on consumer preferences and better operational practice.

Speaking to MCA, Wattinne said: “To get people to order multiple times a week, one thing to consider is the price, and another is continuing to expand choice, to make it a reoccurring habit.

“Technology and partnerships will help get there. It informs restaurants of what works, upcoming trends, eating behaviour. We can help inform what’s going to drive volume.”

Wattine said data insight into operations could also be used to bring the price point down, as well as meal deals and bundles, which he said would be stress tested in the near future.

He said Uber Eats aimed to be relevant to the entire market, rather than focusing on just casual dining for example.

Within two years of being operational, he said consumers had gone from seeing delivery as a Sunday night treat, to more regular use, at breakfast, lunch and the office.

On its relationship with operators, he said: “Exclusivity is not a focus or target. It’s a matter of what’s best, what you want to achieve, what is your business objective. If you have untapped potential, extra kitchen capacity, or staff available, and you’re looking for growth to maximise volume, then it’s in your interest to have multiple partners and apps. Most partners we recommend working with multiple apps to maximise volume.

“But if you are more squeezed, delivery is a big part of business, and you want to optimise your margin, we can work more in depth exclusively – commercially by marketing the product, and operationally by tweaking the menu and in store operations.

“We are focussed on what makes your business successful, rather than the competitive landscape.”

On the commission rates charged to operators, Wattinne said: “We are providing extra volume – leveraging existing kitchen, existing real estate, existing staff. It’s about maximising fixed costs you’ve already invested in.

“We also add value to restaurants through data and technology. The data we share at menu item level helps inform how to improve not just for delivery, but in store.

“Operationally it helps inform prep time, and other operational metrics, which help performance on delivery and in store.

“That’s why 6,000 restaurants work with us. It’s a value added service.”

On developing virtual restaurant brands with operators, he said: “Typically we start informing restaurants of trends and insights about food types that are popular, but aren’t available in particular geography. Restaurants are then able to build one or more menus out of same kitchen that will fulfil different types of demand for the consumer and increase sales for the restaurant.”

Wattinne said Uber Eats was also working with operators on delivery-only kitchens, but was providing insight and intelligence rather than real estate as in the case of Deliveroo Editions.

He added: “We are using technology to make sure it’s the most successful offering, and we’re making fast progress on that. We see ourselves as not providing the whole solution, but working within the ecosystem, by providing intelligence on consumer demand.”