Friday, September 29, 2023

“La Poste has decided to get out of the mess that is the express delivery market”

Clearly everyone is abandoning the damn express shipping industry right now. The last big European fish in the sector, the Turkish Getir, is struggling to digest the absorption of all its little playmates, particularly the German gorillas (who had swallowed the French Frichti). As for competitor Flink, its French subsidiary that declared bankruptcy was taken over in the commercial court at the last moment by its CEO, Guillaume Luscan, on Tuesday, September 12.

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Faced with the failure of a sector that has never demonstrated the solidity of its economic model, La Poste, the first package delivery company in France, has decided to get out of this problem. It announced on Monday, September 18, that it was in negotiations with the German group Mutares for the sale of its small subsidiary Stuart.

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This promising startup was acquired in 2017 to complete its delivery offering. With Colissimo, Chronopost and DPD, the public group was already delivering packages of all sizes in just a few days. Thanks to Stuart and his bike couriers, he had access to almost instant delivery, the ultimate service for busy city dwellers.

Sometimes chaotic management of subcontractors

The company, which has more than 200 employees in France, has expanded to a hundred European cities, with thousands of independent cyclists. “We have not achieved (I’)integrate into our operating model », La Poste tells Agence France-Presse. If the operating model of the public group consists of not losing money in its activities, it is effectively a failure. During the first half of this fiscal year 2023, it recorded €134 million in provisions to cover Stuart’s accumulated losses.

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However, this is not the only reason for this abandonment. The instant delivery market, kingdom of Getir, Gorillas and other Flink, which ensured the delivery of the package of peanuts and the toothbrush in a quarter of an hour day and night, has not kept its promises. So Stuart focused, like everyone else, on the only segment that justified such speed: catering.

This territory has already been largely conquered by Deliveroo and Uber Eats, who in turn are struggling to make a profit. Because this fragile profession depends on the calves of sling-paid independent cyclists. It is not good for La Poste’s reputation, already monopolized by the sometimes chaotic management of its countless subcontractors in vans.

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However, La Poste does not abandon startups and their hopes. You need it to manage your great transition imposed by the digital change, that of mail (in decline) to parcels (in growth). However, the road is winding. It is turning to more politically correct actors, such as Epicery, acquired in 2021. This platform connects Internet users with companies and restaurants in their neighborhood. Proximity replaces immediacy, although the difference seems very slight.

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