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The crisis of Q-Commerce may be existential

Getir France will soon be no more, and Getir Spain looks set to go the same way. The Turkish food delivery platform has announced that its French subsidiary will close permanently, while media reports suggest a similar announcement will be coming soon for Spain.

The retreat comes just two years after the company had entered these markets. Furthermore, Getir is exiting Europe's fourth and sixth most populous countries despite having almost established a monopoly position in both markets.

In France, Getir owns three grocery delivery operations: Getir, Frichti (which it bought in January 2022) and Gorillas (which it bought in December 2022). It had first announced in May that 900 jobs across the three operations were under threat. On Wednesday [21 June], it went further, issuing a press statement saying they were definitively closing, blaming "the complex legal environment and regulations imposed by local authorities". France has changed planning laws making it easier for city councils to shut down noisy and disruptive 'dark stores', but there's more at play here than regulatory trouble: Getir's French subsidiary was reportedly €200 million in debt as of March.

Before the announcement, on Monday, French Gorillas riders and 'pickers' took strike action, demanding "the establishment of a serious voluntary departure plan" and "the allocation of additional funds to finance severance pay beyond the legal requirements". Around 30 riders protested outside Gorillas' Paris HQ. They may soon be joined by many others, with all 1800 employees now on the chopping block. The CGT union said they would be pushing Getir for guarantees about redundancy packages and that all workers continue to be paid until September. 

Getir's exit from France follows that of German Q-Commerce platform Flink. Its French subsidiary filed for bankruptcy on 5 June. American grocery delivery platform GoPuff threw in its French towel in January. Beyond those platforms, there is nothing left. France's app-based grocery delivery sector is vanishing almost as quick as the 10-minute deliveries they once promised. 

In Spain, no official confirmation has yet come of the company's exit, but the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation report that Getir "has already taken the decision to lower the blinds throughout Spain". The subsidiary had announced plans for job cuts on 31 May "due to the difficult economic outlook", but meetings with union officials over the terms of the collective redundancy had been delayed as the company weighed up a complete exit. If/when the axe falls, almost 1,600 jobs will be lost in the southern European country. 

An analysis in 'Metropoli' in April found that Getir Spain had been subsidised by the host company to the tune of €76 million, but despite this the subsidiary still made a loss of €21.7 million in its first year. Just like in France, Getir once faced a host of rivals in Spain, including Rocket, Gorillas and Gopuff. They have all long since disappeared or, in the case of Gorillas, been eaten up. The one still standing is Catalan-headquartered Glovo, which as well as restaurant food delivery has a sizeable grocery delivery arm. 

It seems like a distant dream now, but a massive €4.5 billion in European venture capital investment went into Q-Commerce in 2021 alone, $16 billion at the global scale. Grocery delivery was the next big thing. Getir at its peak was valued at $11.8 billion. Then reality hit home. Inflation, rising interest rates and the tapering-off of the pandemic meant boom rapidly turned to bust. Now, the crisis may be existential.

Will grocery delivery survive? There is an argument which says that the physical infrastructure that has been built in the form of the dark stores (which have efficiency advantages because you don't have to have space for customers) will ensure that the industry has a future in some form. It may be that the supermarkets, many of which have in-house grocery delivery teams, takeover what's left of the platforms. But if it does survive, it will remain a low-margin business that will require customers to pay a premium for delivery. The days of cheap Q-Commerce are behind us.

What's sad is that tens of thousands of riders and pickers will have been chewed up and spat out by the time the industry finds its new equilibrium. While the start-up CEOs and executives will brush it off and move on, those at the coalface will be left to search all over again for gainful employment. It's always those with least responsibility who suffer most from capital's reckless gambles on 'the future'. 

Ben Wray, Gig Economy Project co-ordinator

Gig Economy news round-up

  • ELITÉ TAXI LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO CONVINCE RIDEHAIL DRIVERS TO SWITCH TO TAXIS: The taxi union Elité Taxi Barcelona has launched a publicity drive to convince ridehail (VTC) drivers for platforms like Uber and Cabify to switch to being taxi drivers with the slogan "raise your hand if you want to leave precariousness". The Catalan Parliament's new VTC regulation, which came into force on 1 January, means that VTCs are now restricted to limousines and passenger vans. A new public taxi app in Barcelona was also established in December, making it easier for locals to book taxis. The new model means there is greater demand for taxis in the city, and Elité Taxi, the majority union in the Catalan capital which was instrumental in pushing for the VTC regulation, is encouraging VTC drivers to switch with the promise of better working conditions, claiming that wages are 30-40% higher while drivers work 20-30% fewer hours. On Tuesday [20 June], 250 advertisements were put up around the city on billboards. The posters include a contact number and email. Read more here
  • ITALIAN COURT FINDS GLOVO MUST EXPLAIN ITS SYSTEM FOR ALLOCATING WORK: The Court of Palermo in southern Italy has ruled that Glovo must demonstrate how it allocates work to riders, to ensure there is no discrimination in the assignment of shifts and orders. Glovo, the Catalan headquartered food and grocery delivery platform, must reveal both the logic behind algorithmic decision-making and the selection mechanisms itself, including all the criteria used, with the judge rejecting the company's claim that such information could not be made public due to trade secrecy rules. The unions Filcams, Nidil and Filt Cgil issued a statement after the ruling saying that it was a a fundamental victory which marks an important milestone as only the full knowledge of automated systems and IT platforms allows you to fully understand and counter the logic of precariousness of work that compresses the rights of riders by relegating them to a sort of digital piecework", adding that "only true negotiation of the algorithm, of the new technologies applied to work, allows stable, transparent and dignified forms of employment". Read more here
  • UBER TO CUT HEAD OFFICE STAFF: Uber announced on Wednesday [21 June] that it would be sacking 200 workers in its recruitment division, in an effort to cut costs. The job losses amount to 25% of the recruitment team, and come after letting 150 workers go in its freight services division earlier in the year. Uber said it wants to keep its staff count flat for the year, and that the job losses amounted to less than 1% of its 32,700 employees worldwide. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said last week that he plans to move engineering jobs from the US to their new EU HQ in Amsterdam. Read more here.
  • SPANISH UNION CCOO WINS WORKS' COUNCIL ELECTION AT VTC FIRM IN MADRID: The CCOO, one of the two big unions in Spain, has secured what it has called a "transcendental electoral triumph" in Madrid, winning 57% of union delegates at the Works' Council for ridehail (VTC) intermediary firm Ares Capital. In Spain, private hire platforms operate via intermediaries. Workers at all companies also have the right to establish a Works' Council, which gives workers' a right to information and consultation on company decisions. The CCOO said that the Works' Council election result will reduce the "impact and relevance" of the Free Transport Union, a yellow union close to the bosses. "This achievement is the result of the tireless work of the CCOO delegates who, for more than two months, have dedicated day and night to the campaign," the union said, in a statement, adding: "Ares Capital and the VTC sector in general should take note of this union victory and what it means for the future of labor relations within the company and the sector as a whole." Read more here.
  • BOLT SIGNS DEAL FOR ROBOTIC GROCERY DELIVERY: Bolt, the Estonian multi-modal platform, has signed a deal with robotics firm Starship for the autonomous delivery of Bolt Food. Starship has more than 2,000 six-wheeled robots in Estonia, the UK and the US, and has completed five million commercial deliveries. The company operates on US college campuses, sometimes in partnership with GrubHub, It claims its robots are cheaper than a human carrier. The plan is to eventually roll-out the robots across all of the 45 countries Bolt operates in, with the first deliveries set to start this year in Estonia's capital, Tallinn. Starship is also an Estonian company, and was launched by the founders of Skype in 2014. “We’re excited to bring our two services together through this new collaboration, which will provide millions of Bolt Food customers with a new, sustainable delivery option," Bolt's President, Jevgeni Kabanov, said. Read more here.

In GEP this week

The food delivery couriers who worked for three months and never got paid

The Gig Economy Project speaks to a Wolt rider in Berlin, who was hired via a sub-contractor and was never paid. He and his colleagues are taking the food delivery platform to court.
From around the web
Anti-Uberisation & the gig worker rebel alliance

Gig Economy Project co-ordinator Ben Wray writes for our new grant funder, Guerrilla Foundation, about the gig economy in Europe and what GEP does.
How algorithms are reshaping the exploitation of labour-power: insights into the process of labour invisibilisation in the platform economy

In this paper, Lorenzo Cini, research fellow at University College Dublin, looks at what insights Marx's theory of labour value offers in understanding the platform economy.
Last-mile delivery is so normalised that we can’t see the endgame approaching

Alex González Ormerod writes in 'Rest of World' on the consolidation of food delivery platforms in Latin America, with the big platforms each trying to carve out monopoly positions rather than compete with one another.

Upcoming events

- The Platform Labor Project and the Global Digital Cultures Initiative are holding a hybrid international conference on 'Global Perspectives on platforms, labour and social re-production', at the University of Amsterdam, 27-28 June. Details here

- Fairwork's first global report on 'gender and platform work' will be launched at a webinar on July 3rd, 2pm CET. Click here for full details and to register.

- The final hybrid conference of the project 'Don't Gig Up, Never!' by Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini (FGB) & Unione Italiana Lavoratori (UIL) will be held on 7 July, 9.30-12am in Rome, Italy. For full details and to register click here

- The first Platform Work Directive 'trilogue' between the EU Council, the Parliament and the Commission will be on 11 July. 

Know of upcoming events we should be highlighting? Let us know at

Get Involved

The Gig Economy Project is a media network for gig workers and we welcome contributions from workers, writers, academics, activists - anyone who wants to stand up for workers' rights in the gig economy.

If you would like to write for the site, discuss arranging an interview with GEP, or simply have information about developments in the gig economy in Europe you think we should be aware of, get in touch. 

Contact project co-ordinator Ben Wray at or send a direct message to the Twitter: @project_gig.

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