Uber's food delivery service goes places

LONDON • Uber is making a big push into meal delivery with new staff and aggressive marketing as it prepares to take on local rivals in dozens of countries.

The plan includes 16 cities in 12 European countries, ranging from Madrid to Moscow and Manchester, 11 cities in Asia - including Hong Kong, Jakarta and Tokyo - plus Dubai and Mexico City and two of South Africa's big cities.

In a sign of growing ambition beyond its riding-sharing business, Uber is gearing up to deliver meals in Amsterdam as soon as this week.

According to job listings on Uber and other recruiting sites, UberEats, as the food delivery service is known, is hiring everyone from general managers to bike couriers, salespeople and marketing managers for launches in 24 countries.

So far, UberEats has launched in 36 cities in six countries. Twenty-seven of the cities are in the United States, where Uber first began testing food delivery two years ago in Los Angeles.

Its first international move was to Paris a year ago.

"We have got an aggressive expansion roadmap," said Mr Jambu Palaniappan, recently named head of UberEats for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

And Uber has revealed that it has even more ambitious plans.

The company's products head Jeff Holden has told CNBC that Uber is looking at offering a new form of transport - vertical take- off and landing aircraft.

They might use landing pads on city buildings to ferry passengers speedily above traffic-congested streets below.

Mr Holden, who has been involved in Uber's autonomous self-driving car development, said his research is "so we can someday offer our customers as many options as possible to move around".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Uber's food delivery service goes places'. Print Edition | Subscribe