The Uber Eats logo displayed on a smartphone.
Hollie Adams | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON — Uber is taking on Europe’s buzzy grocery delivery start-ups with a service in Paris that ships essential items to shoppers’ doors in as little as 15 minutes.
The U.S. ride-hailing and food delivery company said it has expanded a partnership with French supermarket chain Carrefour to debut the service, which is called Carrefour Sprint. It will be available on the Uber Eats app from Tuesday.
Rather than sending couriers to Carrefour stores, Uber is relying on a network of so-called dark stores — small warehouses where pickers and packers prepare orders for delivery — operated by French start-up Cajoo.
Carrefour partnered with Cajoo earlier this year to help it offer its own rapid delivery service. The retail group is also a minority shareholder in Cajoo.
Europe has seen a flood of grocery upstarts emerge recently, fueled by surging demand during the coronavirus pandemic and hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital.
Turkey’s Getir raised $550 million at a $7.5 billion valuation in June, while Germany’s Gorillas recently closed a $1 billion funding round led by food delivery firm Delivery Hero, valuing the company at $3.1 billion.
In Paris, Uber will go head-to-head with Getir, Gorillas, U.K. start-up Zapp and Russian tech giant Yandex.
European food delivery companies are also getting in on the action, with U.K.-based Deliveroo launching its own fast grocery delivery service in partnership with retailer Morrisons.
Critics have said rapid grocery delivery companies will struggle to become sustainable businesses due to the high costs required to scale and compete with large incumbent retailers.
Uber has been pushing deeper into food and grocery delivery over the past year as demand for its ride-sharing business dropped dramatically due to Covid-19 lockdowns.
Uber said its new partnership with Carrefour will let users order from almost 2,000 daily essentials including fruit and vegetables, dry goods and cleaning supplies. The items are stocked by Cajoo at nine of its dark stores in the French capital.
Earlier this year, the two companies partnered to let users order groceries online from nearly 2,000 stores. Uber said it plans to expand Carrefour Sprint in other French cities including Lyon, Bordeaux and Toulouse in the coming weeks.
“Over the past 18 months people have increasingly come to expect quick and reliable delivery of everyday essentials to their doorsteps,” said Eve Henrikson, regional general manager of Uber Delivery EMEA. “In Europe alone we’ve seen a triple-digit increase in demand for grocery delivery.”
Uber has a similar deal with GoPuff in the U.S. aimed at delivering essentials in a matter of minutes. At the same time, Gopuff is expanding its rapid grocery delivery service internationally, buying U.K. rival Dija in August for an undisclosed amount.