French dark store ban dooms fast grocery firms

France’s once-thriving “dark stores” are permanently shutting down due to severe financial losses and unfriendly new regulations.

On Wednesday, prominent brands Getir and Gorillas ceased to operate in France. These city-centre depositories, known for their instant deliveries of popular grocery items, flourished during the Covid lockdown.

Following complaints from locals and concerns about unfair competition, the dark stores are now reclassified solely as warehouses rather than shops.

The new regulations took effect on July 1, leading to the departure of the two primary companies in “ultra-quick commerce,” Getir (a Turkish firm) and Flink (Germany’s company), as they announced their exit from France.

Getir, the owner of Gorillas and Frichti, stated that their decision to leave was “inevitable” due to the challenging economic climate, unfriendly regulatory environment, and lack of potential buyers.

The commercial court in Paris has officially ordered the liquidation of Getir and Gorillas, resulting in the loss of approximately 1,300 jobs. Frichti has been granted an additional three months to seek a potential buyer. The court’s decision regarding Flink’s future will be announced later in the summer.

During their peak, there were 12 different operators running around 80 locations in Paris alone. The entire sector employed approximately 2,200 individuals, with most of them being on permanent contracts.

City officials in Paris expressed their delight over the departure of dark stores. Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire stated that “the dark stores are over,” referring to their “predatory capitalistic behavior.”

Dark stores typically had a nondescript exterior with only the company’s name displayed on a frosted window. Inside, shelves were filled with commonly purchased items, neatly packed into bags, and ready to be handed over to couriers.

However, locals expressed constant complaints about the noise caused by squads of deliverers, and city planners voiced concerns that the model posed a threat to the vitality of public spaces, potentially leading to a society of home-bound consumers.

Food deliveries in France will continue to be available through Internet operators like Uber Eats and Deliveroo, who collaborate with supermarkets.

Critics of “quick commerce” point out the irony that employees in dark stores, with their full-time contracts, enjoyed better job protection compared to freelance couriers hired by online platforms.



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By Ryan

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