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The owner of online food delivery giant Just Eat has forecast that orders will soar further in 2021 after surging demand amid the pandemic helped it notch up a leap in annual sales.
Dutch-based Just Eat Takeaway.com reported earnings of 256 million euros (£219 million) for 2020, up from 18 million euros (£15 million) in 2019 thanks to a 42% leap in orders.
It saw UK orders jump 35% over the year and said this had accelerated further in the current lockdown, with pubs and restaurants forced to shut across Britain.
The group said UK orders were 88% higher in the first two months of 2021, with delivery orders up by more than 600% compared with a year earlier.
And the firm – the world’s largest online takeaway platform – said it expects to see order growth ramp up even further in 2021.
Chief executive Jitse Groen said: “2020 was an exceptional year for Just Eat Takeaway.com.
“This (the pandemic) brought unprecedented challenges to our restaurants, consumers, as well as to our organisation and staff, but it also created tailwinds for our business.
“In the second half of the year, we increased our investments into the legacy Just Eat business significantly, building on our position as one of the largest food delivery companies in the world.
“Our revenue grew 54% in 2020, and we expect a further acceleration of our order growth in 2021 compared with last year.”
The firm said growth in the UK was helped by its partnerships with McDonald’s and bakery chain Greggs, with delivery orders more than doubling year on year in 2020 and up 260% in the second half.
But despite the impressive sales performance, UK earnings growth remained muted – with an increase of 2% to 216 million euros (£185 million) as the firm prioritised investing in boosting its market share by spending heavily on marketing and expanding its sales team.
On a bottom-line basis, the group reported widening pre-tax losses of 147 million euros (£126 million) against 88 million euros (£75 million) the previous year due to costs of Takeaway.com’s £6.2 billion acquisition of Just Eat in 2019 and its planned takeover of Grubhub.
Just Eat Takeaway.com has been on a buying spree of rivals in recent years to cement its position as the world’s biggest online takeaway platform – with a takeover of Grubhub approved on October 7.
It came after Takeaway.com last year sealed its deal to buy Just Eat, after a long and bitter takeover battle.
The UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), gave the move the green light in April.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said Just Eat has ambitious growth plans, but warned that the “pressure is just about to ratchet up” from rivals and with Deliveroo preparing to join the London stock market.
He said: “The reported £5 million paid to rapper Snoop Dogg to appear in its TV adverts indicates just what a competitive landscape it operates in – with Uber Eats and Deliveroo battling Just Eat for our takeaway spend.
“This means heavy marketing costs across the board and investment in increasing its in-house delivery capabilities, wiping out any profit the company might have made during its bumper year.”