Friday 2 November 2018 12:17 am

The City grabs popcorn for the ultimate takeaway tug-of-war

The knives are out in the food fight that’s gripped the takeaway sector.

On one side, there’s market leader Just Eat which revealed yesterday that a chunky investment into its Latin American business will eat into profits. However, its shares were up more than six per cent as it reported a 41 per cent sales rise in the last three months.

On the other side, there are the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats that are both on a mission to chow down on Just Eat’s market share. Who gets the bigger slice of the takeaway pie? Rewards will go to the player that hits the sweet spot of providing the most competitive delivery service for restaurants while offering customers the best experience.

In this scramble, all the players are on a mission to steal each others’ lunch. Unlike Deliveroo and Uber Eats, Just Eat originally only took online orders on behalf of restaurants but did not deliver the food. However, earlier in the year the takeaway firm started trialling its own delivery riders in some key markets including the UK, Australia and Canada.

This was hard to swallow for rival Deliveroo’s boss William Shu, who announced plans to expand in the UK over the summer by signing up 5,000 restaurants that use their own delivery fleets in a direct challenge to Just Eat.

“Today we are changing the game,” Shu declared. “We have seen Just Eat announce that they are going to operate in our space. So we are doing this to give the customer the best possible experience.”

Then came rumours that Uber is in talks to buy Deliveroo for several billion dollars. The speculation put Just Eat off investors’ menus as its shares slipped more than five percent. Analysts said a potential “Uberoo-esque wave” could eventually sound the death knell of a company that stormed into the FTSE 100 last year.

But unlike many of its rivals, Just Eat is a profitable business. Its first-mover advantage has beefed up its market cap to more than £4bn, no mean feat for a company that was set up in a Danish basement in 2001.

While Just Eat’s management are pleased with the company’s progress, the market is worried that its costly battle to fend off aggressive rivals, which have deep-pocketed investors bankrolling them, may yet force it to eat humble pie.

Get your popcorn ready because these takeaway titans mean war.