Photographer: Peti Kollanyi/Bloomberg

Xbox, Apple and Robots Key to Just Eat’s Global Expansion

  • 40 delivery drones rolled out as company embraces technology
  • Shares rise to highest level since IPO more than two years ago

Less than a week ago, a customer of Just Eat Plc in the U.K. had their evening takeout delivered to their home by a robot rather than a human. For the London-based company, food served with technology is key to growth, and it has formed partnerships with Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. to integrate its ordering service into the Xbox and Apple TV platforms.

Customers will increasingly order their Friday night takeout from a smart TV and have it delivered by one of the 40 autonomous six-wheeled drones that are being rolled out across the capital, as the company moves away from its reliance on humans.

“It will be a pretty cool day when a robot turns up to the front door with your dinner,” Chief Executive Officer David Buttress said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “It’s a really interesting long-term solution to the delivery challenge which exists around food.”

For more on Just Eat’s robot delivery army, click here.

On Thursday, the company boosted its full-year revenue forecast to 368 million pounds ($484 million) from 358 million pounds, an increase of 2.8 percent. Favorable foreign exchange rates as a result of Brexit accounted for 3 million pounds, while the number of restaurant partners increased despite a rise in the commissions Just Eat charges them.

Just Eat was built on the back of the internet revolution, with more than 70 percent of orders now coming from mobile devices, up from 60 percent in 2015. The company has also installed about 2,000 “Orderpad” terminals in partner restaurants to be able to provide “Order on its Way” notifications to customers. Competition between food delivery providers is fierce in London and across Europe -- rivals including Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Amazon are all investing heavily in the sector.

Investment in tech is mirrored by Just Eat’s intention to go global. Its revenue in developing markets grew 164 percent year-on-year -- helping to mitigate any impact of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. A total of 36 percent of Just Eat’s revenue now comes in currencies other than sterling.

Brexit is a “complete non-event” for the company, said Buttress, and may even trigger a small boost as diners neglect eating out in favor of staying home. “If you took the U.K. business out of the Just Eat portfolio today, our international businesses are actually bigger than the company we IPO-ed a couple of years ago.”

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization are now forecast to be 106 million pounds to 108 million pounds, up from the prior projection of 102 million pounds to 104 million pounds.

The stock rose as much as 9.5 percent in London to the highest level since the company’s initial public offering more than two years ago. It was up 7.5 percent as of 2:54 p.m.

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