Amazon leads $789 m investment in Deliveroo, wading into food delivery battle

Deliveroo has raised US$1.53 billion (S$2.1 billion) to date.
Deliveroo has raised US$1.53 billion (S$2.1 billion) to date.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Amazon.com is leading a US$575 million (S$789.3 million) investment in Deliveroo, buying a slice of the fast-growing start-up to propel its drive into the European food and groceries business.

The US online retail giant will be joined in the Series G funding round by existing backers T Rowe Price, Fidelity Management and Research Co and Greenoaks, Deliveroo said in an e-mailed statement. The London-based start-up, which has raised US$1.53 billion to date, gets a cash infusion to expand its technology team and network and compete against the likes of Just Eat and Uber Technologies.

Amazon has signalled its growing ambitions in food with Prime Now, which offers deliveries to major British cities within two hours. But it faces stiff domestic competition from the likes of Ocado Group Plc, an online grocery pioneer that licenses its technology to the likes of Kroger Co and aims to halve that time with a service called Zoom.

Consolidation has also been heating up in the food delivery sector. In one recent deal, Takeaway.com NV agreed to acquire the German businesses of Delivery Hero SE for approximately €930 million (S$1.43 billion) in December.

The UK food delivery marketplace faces growing competition from Uber Eats, Just Eat, and Deliveroo amid escalating talk of consolidation in the sector. Uber Technologies was in early talks to buy food-delivery company Deliveroo, Bloomberg reported in September.

Uber Eats and Deliveroo are also battling for so-called virtual restaurants, where eateries lease kitchen space to prepare food for couriers. With no dining rooms or wait staff, these outfits pop up where food delivery companies expect demand, and sell their meals through Uber Eats or Deliveroo's app.

Deliveroo said the new funding will partly go towards new innovations in the food sector, for example through delivery-only kitchens, as well as new formats.