More consolidation in the thin-margin food delivery space: Delivery Hero has announced it’s buying the LatinAm operations of Glovo, a Spanish on-demand delivery app. The German company said today that it’s paying up to €230 million to take over eight markets, including a €60M performance-based earn-out.

The transaction, which Berlin-based Delivery Hero said it expects to close within a few weeks, will cover all of the Latin American countries where Glovo operates — namely: Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

Glovo had already pulled out of two LatAm markets at the start of this year, saying then that it was focused on markets where it could grow and establish itself among the top two delivery players. It exited the Middle East at the same time.

Offloading its LatAm operations to Delivery Hero now will leave it with 14 markets — and a fuller focus on Southern and Eastern Europe.

The move isn’t a huge surprise, given ongoing questions over profitability in the thin-margin delivery space.

Last December Glovo told us it was focused on trying to reach profitability “in a little over a year’s time”. That essentially means winning the race with competitors to be the dominant platform where you’re operating, and only operating in cities where the unit economics stack up, so — ideally — where you can nudge users to make high volumes of repeat orders.

Still, in December 2019 Glovo’s co-founder also told us it was expecting its LatAm business to be operationally profitable this year. But perhaps challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic have pushed it to narrow its focus.

There are also SoftBank’s billions to contend with. The Japanese tech investor has a $2BN fund aimed at Central and South American — as well as making multiple investments in on-demand delivery startup which have been duking it out for share in the region. The cost of competing in the region was likely rising and that wouldn’t help Glovo’s push for profitability.

Commenting on the sale in a statement, Glovo CEO, Oscar Pierre, said: “We feel that it’s important to focus on key markets where we can build a long-term sustainable business and continue to provide our unique multi-category offering to our customers.”

“This deal will allow us to strengthen our presence in those markets where we are already very strong, while also allowing us to invest in new markets where we see huge growth potential and opportunity. We truly believe that Delivery Hero is the best possible partner to take the business we’ve built in Latin America to the next level. They have everything it takes to go on and become the leading player in the region,” he added.

The sale means Delivery Hero will add five new markets to its LatAm footprint, as well as removing a competitor in three markets where the two have been directly competing (Argentina, Panama and the Dominican Republic).

In these three overlapping markets it will take over Glovo’s businesses directly, on the closing of the transaction. Glovo will continue to operate the other businesses until March 2021, they added.

The transaction is also subject to fulfilment of certain conditions and relevant regulatory approvals.

In a statement Niklas Östberg, CEO and co-founder of Delivery Hero, said LatAm offers “exceptional growth potential” for his veteran food delivery business — which only two years ago sold its operations in its home market of Germany to another rival, Takeaway.com. (So, yes, the food delivery space really is a sizzling stir-fry of deals as players jockey for position and — they hope — profitability…)

“Latin America is a region with exceptional growth potential for online delivery. Acquiring Glovo’s local operations gives us the opportunity to double down on our efforts to drive innovation, continuously improve customer experience and support local vendors in the region. We have been working closely with Glovo for many years, and are proud to incorporate their Latin American services into our global network,” Östberg said.

Back in August Delivery Hero also went shopping on the grocery delivery front picking up Dubai-based InstaShop. Grocery delivery has risen up the agenda during the coronavirus crisis, as food delivery app users have found themselves with more time at home than usual.

Glovo also bills itself as ‘more than food delivery’ — with a button in the app where users can request delivery of ‘anything’ (or at least anything one of its couriers can manage on a bike or moped to them).

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