The world’s biggest takeaway delivery firm has hinted at a swoop for one of Just Eat Takeaway, Uber Eats or Deliveroo in a fresh assault on the UK.
The boss of Berlin-headquartered Delivery Hero, which previously owned now-defunct operator Hungryhouse, believes there is scope for acquiring one of the “less good” big three.
Niklas Östberg told The Telegraph: “The only way to enter the UK market would be through an acquisition of some kind.”
The takeaway delivery market has experienced a number of blockbuster deals over the last year as firms consolidate to cut costs and drive better profitability.
Just Eat merged with Takeaway.com in a £6bn deal last year. In June, the enlarged group announced it would acquire US firm Grubhub in a £5.8bn takeover.
Competition regulators last month gave the green light to a $575m (£450m) investment into Deliveroo led by Amazon.
Delivery Hero, listed in Amsterdam with a market value of almost €19bn (£17bn), is delivering “substantially better” than its rivals, Mr Östberg said as the company launched in Japan.
He said: “We would only do that acquisition if we felt we could deliver more value to the customer – replacing one shareholder with another shareholder, that doesn’t add a lot of value. In the end we need to feel that we can generate value. We can add value.
“If we see that possibility, then who knows?”
Dutch-based tech firm Prosus launched a failed attempt to gatecrash the merger between Just Eat and Takeaway with a rival cash offer. Prosus hoped to transform Just Eat by focusing on delivery, rather than simply offering an online platform for takeaway firms, which deliver food themselves.
Mr Östberg said: “I’ve heard people say: ‘You can’t make money out of delivering toilet paper and toothpaste’. But we say that if people really want toilet paper and toothpaste and we can deliver that, we just need to figure out how to do that economically. If that’s what they want, that’s what we are going to deliver.
“[The only way to come to the UK market would be] to buy one of them. Yes, that is correct.
“At this moment… we have so many other priorities. But I think we are building a substantially better product than some of the others. And I think that if that continues then we can add a lot of value by doing something long-term, that we can replace a less good product with a better product.”