Food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com (JET.L) remained upbeat about the year ahead as it announced that the number of orders last year grew 33% to 1.1 billion. But it also said 2021 "has been the peak year of losses."
Its stock was up 1.5% as markets opened in London.
The gross transaction value (GTV) for the orders was €28.2bn (£23.5bn, $32.1bn) for the full year, representing an increase of 31% compared with 2020.
The company processed 274 million orders in the fourth quarter of 2021, representing a 14% increase compared with the same period of 2020. GTV totalled €7.3bn in this period, up 17% compared year-on-year.
The UK & Ireland was the fastest growing segment for both the quarter and the year. Just Eat Takeaway announced several on-demand grocery delivery partnerships, building on its delivery network, including with Asda and One Stop in the UK.
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The company plans to continue to invest heavily, especially in its London network, while it expects to further improve profitability in 2022.
‘’There is a tight pack of competitors jostling for position in the delivery sector but Just Eat Takeaway appears to be gaining more ground on its rivals in key markets like the UK," said Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.
"The investment following the merger of Just Eat and Takeaway.com and the acquisition of Grubhub is now paying off and there should be the prospect of continued growth ahead with more restaurants being signed up offering more choice, particularly in the lucrative New York market."
She said the company has committed to phasing out gig economy contracts and employing couriers instead, recently signing a contract with Spanish unions for better hourly rates, and holiday provision, so it seems more immune to concerns about the shake-up in EU labour laws than its rivals.
There are still headwinds which could slow growth, not least the income squeeze which is set to get tighter in many economies, which could lead to fewer orders of expensive takeouts, she noted.
"But with spokes in the Just Eat wheel now touching the convenience sector with deals signed with Asda and One Stop in the UK and 7-Eleven in the US, it should make for a less bumpy road ahead, particularly with potentially more tie-ups to come.’’
Following the merger of Just Eat and Takeaway.com nearly two years ago, the company said it made significant investments and is now six times bigger in terms of orders.
The company improved profitability throughout the second half of 2021 and expects its “market positions to further strengthen” said CEO Jitse Groen.
Earlier in the year he had said: "With most of the world returning to pre-pandemic life, our growth in the third quarter of 2021 has remained strong. Just Eat Takeaway.com is well-positioned for autumn and winter, our traditional growth season."
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The company said its US subsidiary Grubhub continued to make good progress increasing restaurant selection for diners, most notably in New York.
But Just Eat Takeaway has come under pressure from investors to sell operations including Grubhub as the group is making losses, and the boost that food delivery companies received from increased orders while people spent more time at home during the pandemic has begun to die down.
Looking ahead, the company reiterated its financial targets of growing GTV by mid-teens percentage points year-on-year in 2022 and adding in excess of €30bn of GTV to be added over the next five years.