Interview with Deliveroo President Xu Zixiang The new central kitchen model combines dining and takeaway

In just five years, Xu Zixiang, president of food delivery service Deliveroo, expanded the company to 12 countries with a valuation of $2 billion

Regarding whether the food delivery service company Deliveroo has cross-field plans, Xu Zixiang said that the pursuit of vertical markets seems to be a trend, but the company cares deeply about food. Therefore, the company launched a second Deliveroo Editions location in China, where seven restaurant partners use kitchen facilities to cook food, and the delivery person then delivers the food to customers in the area.

“Competition comes and goes, Uber is a big competitor, it’s gone, but we’re going to stay.”

This is the promise Xu Zixiang (38), president of food delivery service Deliveroo, to restaurants, delivery staff and customers in an exclusive interview with Lianhe Zaobao.

The food delivery industry is highly competitive, with Deliveroo suffering losses of £129.08 million (about S$234.26 million) in 2016, four times its deficit in 2015. However, its revenue soared sixfold to £128.56 million over the same period.

According to China’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Deliveroo’s business in Singapore suffered a loss of $16.86 million in 2016, with revenue of $11.45 million.

Mr Hui explained that the loss in 2016 was due to expansion into 11 other markets, including Singapore at the end of 2015. “Actually, we’re starting to make money in many different markets right now, but I can’t give too many details yet,” he said. ”

Some of his competitors started out not primarily in food delivery but have since diversified their businesses. For example, ride-hailing platform Grab will launch GrabFood to replace UberEATS at the end of this month, and Honestbee, a daily goods and food delivery service that has recently joined the food delivery industry.

Asked if Deliveroo has similar cross-cutting plans in the future, Hui said: “The pursuit of vertical markets may seem trendy, but what our company cares deeply about is food. ”

That’s why, he said, the company launched its second Deliveroo Editions location in Singapore, with a central kitchen at CT Hub 2 on Lavender Street, where seven restaurant partners use kitchen facilities to cook food, and delivery people deliver food to customers in the area.

Unlike the central kitchen that opened in Katong last year, the new 3,657-square-foot space has a dining space for 20 people and allows diners to pick up their own food after ordering.

“It’s no different from a deli center, it’s equivalent to dozens of restaurants under one roof.”

Koh further explained that considering the local deli culture and the willingness of Chinese people to try new foods, the company decided to use Singapore as the first stop to launch the meal or self-collection service, which will be rolled out to other markets.

The central kitchen is divided into eight kitchens, and when the reporter visited two weeks ago, he found seven restaurant partners settled in, they served Korean food, Vietnamese food, Greek food, etc.

The last kitchen space, temporarily used as a media interview room, was furnished with a table and a few chairs. Xu Zixiang, who was interviewed by two reporters earlier, took me into this “kitchen”. Dressed in a T-shirt and trousers, he leaned forward with his hands on the back of his chair and began to talk to reporters, his demeanor relaxed and relaxed, and he had the posture of a start-up company founder.

The idea of a food delivery service sprang up in London

The Chinese-American worked at Morgan Stanley, an investment bank. He worked in New York in early 2000 before relocating to London. He recalls working 100 hours a week and relying on food delivery in New York to fill his stomach.

When he went to London, he found that there was a lack of local services and had to go to a supermarket chain, so he had the idea of setting up a food delivery service company. However, it took several years for the business idea to be realized.

Xu returned to the United States in 2010 to pursue an MBA program, and after graduation, he started a business with childhood friend Greg Orlowski, and Deliveroo was launched in London in 2013.

Xu Zixiang was also the company’s first delivery man, riding Scottar to deliver food and finding restaurant partners to work with.

The business has gone from strength to strength, receiving capital injections from venture capital firms such as Index Ventures and Accel Partners, which raised $385 million last September. According to data platform Crunchbase, Deliveroo has raised a total of $860 million to date, valuing the company at $2 billion.

Meals are still delivered on bicycles every few weeks

Now Xu Zixiang still rides his bicycle to deliver food every few weeks, understands the needs of the delivery staff, and exercises at the same time. He has delivered meals in Paris, Melbourne, Brussels and Hong Kong, but in Hong Kong he delivered them on foot because cycling was difficult.

“I haven’t tried it in Singapore yet,” he said. If time permits, it can be implemented this afternoon. ”

Due to the tight schedule in Singapore, Hui Zixiang did not work as a delivery man in Singapore. Still, he’s no stranger to local restaurants and diners.

Mr. Hui said most of his meals were cooked by the company’s partners, and Singapore was no exception.

On the evening two days before the interview, he went to Xinwu Min Seafood for dinner and tasted the “heart fried rice” stir-fried with beef fat, which made him praise the deliciousness. “As for the chili crab, I really like the taste, but I don’t have much patience to eat it.”

Mr Hui said Singaporean diners were actually quite “picky.” He explained that locals can find high-quality food at low prices at the charcuterie center here. He pointed out that Singapore is also one of the largest food delivery markets in the world because the locals are very particular about convenience. In addition, Singapore is a melting pot that incorporates various cultures and creates different cuisines.

“Singaporean diners are demanding, but that’s a good thing because we are self-motivated.”

So what are the characteristics of diners in other countries? Xu Zixiang said that Italians also emphasize high-quality food, while Spaniards are more casual, so they are not too particular about waiting times.

As for London, where he lives, Xu said London diners care a lot about high-quality food delivered in the shortest possible time. “The average delivery time is about 22 minutes, 23 minutes, which is very important for people with busy lives.”

Perhaps this is why the original 30-minute interview was like food delivery time, and it was asked to end at the 24th minute. When the reporter asked Xu Zixiang to write down his Chinese name, he was surprised to find that the other party spoke Chinese fluently, and it turned out that his parents were Taiwanese.

Whether he would consider entering the Chinese mainland market in the future, he replied with a smile: “Maybe Taiwan!” ”

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