Getir, a Turkish startup that has built a $7.5 billion business by allowing consumers to buy groceries and have them delivered in minutes, has grown its business organically up to this point, focusing on urban markets across Europe (and soon the US) where it is disrupting the well-stocked cornershop with a service that requires even less effort and time from the average shopper. Now, it’s shaking things up with its first acquisition, which will allow it to expand into three additional countries.
Blok, a Barcelona-based “instant delivery” grocery service, is being acquired by the company. The financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, but Blok (previously known as Huvi Technologies) was bootstrapped, relatively new and small (launching only in February 2021), and was already shopping itself around.
Blok was founded by Vishal Verma, Hunab Moreno, and Varun Kapoor and operates in Spain and Italy, with Madrid, Barcelona, and Milan as its primary markets. Pre-Getir, Portugal was on the list of countries to debut in, and it will do so soon. As part of the acquisition, more than 120 staff will join Getir.
Getir has been profitable in Turkey since 2015, thanks to a mix of services that began with fast delivery but have since expanded to include broader grocery options (GetirMore, with longer delivery turnarounds), restaurant delivery (GetirFood), local business delivery (GetirLocals), and water delivery (GetirWater).
This has given Getir momentum, which it is now using to expand its flagship fast grocery model into other markets such as the UK — I see its mopeds all the time in my London neighborhood — the Netherlands, Paris, and Berlin.
Getir is by no means the only player of its kind, despite being one of the earliest movers and possibly the best capitalized.
The European market is brimming with startups that are building services around the same basic principles of super-fast delivery across an assortment of around 1,500 goods — typically much smaller than what you’d find in a grocery store (17,000 is a typical number), and closer to what you’d find in the type of quick-stop small market that can be found throughout city centers.
Flink, Gorillas, Glovo, Zapp, Dija, Cajoo, Weezy, and plenty of other firms have raised hundreds of millions of dollars — but still less than $2 billion, according to Getir CEO and co-founder Nazim Salur — to scale their operations.
Take-up has been fairly enthusiastic, fueled in part by the pandemic and the fact that many people have been under stay-at-home orders, or are simply keen to avoid public places in order to limit Covid-19 spread; but also by gaining popularity with millennials and other younger customers, who have really taken to using their phones for all practical jobs, which then become leisure pastimes when they become apps.
Before Covid, Getir was experiencing threefold yearly growth, with certain years, such as 2017, seeing the company increase fivefold, said Salur. “During Covid we also grew 5x but without it, it would have been 4x. It accelerated our growth but Covid is not the main reason people use us. It’s mainly because we’re a big convenience. It means we can grow. In Turkey, life’s back to normal but every month we still grow.”
Is it, however, a large enough market for all of these players? We know of at least one that is trying to obtain more funding to compete – capital is critical, given the balance of logistics and shipping, dark storefronts to stock products, and having the items themselves to sell, not to mention the fierce competition — and is searching for a buyer as a result.
In that perspective, it may come as little surprise that Blok had raised no significant money and, although having built out some technology and a team of people, was ready to sell less than six months after opening.
“We are very excited to join hands with the pioneers of ultrafast delivery on our shared goal to lead the on-demand grocery market in Southern Europe,” Verma from Block said in a statement. “This acquisition allows us to leverage Getir’s deep industry know-how, relationships and technology, while combining that with our world class team and execution capabilities to create a formidable leader in this part of the world. We’ve had a great response from all our launches in Spain and Italy and can’t wait to double down on our efforts alongside Getir.”
But, despite this clear picture of consolidation in the works, Getir isn’t going to go into the business of consolidating everything — at least not yet.
“Getir will not become an acquisition company, acquiring one after the other. That’s not the way we operate,” Salur, who co-founded the company with Serkan Borancili and Tuncay Tutek, stated in an interview. “But, it’s a free market and if there is a good reason, a solid good reason, we might consider it. We won’t be going after ten different companies in this world, but if the right opportunity shows itself we’ll talk to people.”