Deliveroo to expand to 100 more towns and cities as rider numbers soar

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·3 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/01/03: Deliveroo courier rides along the Regent Street delivering Takeaway food  in central London during covid 19 tier 4 restrictions. (Photo by Pietro Recchia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Deliveroo is expanding to more towns and cities. Photo: Pietro Recchia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Deliveroo has announced plans to launch in another 100 towns and cities across the UK in the year ahead.

The food delivery firm said the move would mark an increase of around 50% on the 200 locations it currently operates in.

The move is likely to create new jobs, though the company did not state how many riders it expects to take on. The company is also reported to be eyeing up a float on the London Stock Exchange this year.

It said the past year had already seen it double its workforce of self-employed contractors to 50,000, and it appears confident demand will remain strong.

Takeaway orders have soared since the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, with many households confined to their homes and restaurants forced to go takeaway-only for much of the year. Domino’s Pizza (DOM.L) announced plans to hire 5,000 new staff in September.

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Deliveroo has also launched partnerships with several leading supermarkets to deliver groceries, including Morrisons, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

It said its “logistics expertise had proven vital” in providing essential groceries, especially for the vulnerable and self-isolating. Groceries are the fastest-growing part of its business.

Deliveroo said the latest expansion would give around four million people access to its services. The new areas include Yeovil, East Kilbride, King’s Lynn, Scarborough, Llanelli, Exmouth, and Northern Ireland’s Bangor. It has not released a full list of new locations, however.

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“We are pleased to announce that we expect to launch in around 100 new towns and cities across the UK and expand our reach in existing areas throughout 2021 with the aim of reaching almost two-thirds of the population,” said Carlo Mocci, Deliveroo’s chief business officer for UK and Ireland.

“With further lockdown measures now in place across the UK, we want to do everything possible to help households get the food they need and want and play our role to make sure families across the country have a wide selection of amazing food, drink and household products to order in as little as 30 minutes.”

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It comes a month after Deliveroo rival Just Eat announced it would give its riders the chance to switch to pay based on hours, not orders.

The company said its experience in other countries showed many couriers valued the “benefits and protections” of the more secure pay.

Pay and conditions for workers in the growing ‘gig economy’ of platform-based, freelance work have repeatedly come under fire over the past decade.

Several firms have faced legal challenges over the employment status of contractors, with workers and unions claiming they should be treated as employees.

But a Deliveroo spokesman said last month riders value flexibility “above all else,” telling the Evening Standard an employment model would “deny riders the ability to control their own work patterns.”