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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

Just Eat's chief loses appetite for job at UK food deliverer

Peter Plumb to step down after shares fell 26.2 per cent last year on increasing competition from new rivals including Deliveroo and Uber Eats

Just Eat now faces stiff competition despite claiming a world-first in food delivery in London. Getty
Just Eat now faces stiff competition despite claiming a world-first in food delivery in London. Getty

The chief executive of Just Eat is leaving the UK food delivery company amid competition from rival apps, alongside calls from a shareholder to speed up decision-making and consider the sale of non-core assets.

Peter Plumb is stepping down with immediate effect, with Peter Duffy, chief customer officer, being appointed as interim CEO. In December, shareholder Cat Rock Capital Management recommended Just Eat’s board consider selling its minority stake in Brazilian start-up iFood, arguing it could generate up to £650 million (Dh3.06 billion) that could potentially be returned to investors.

Shares in Just Eat fell as much as 5.8 per cent in early trading Monday.

Mr Plumb was appointed to the top role in mid-2017 with a target of getting the company in the FTSE 100, a target achieved in December that year. However, over 2018 shares fell 26.2 per cent after facing increasing competition from new rivals including Deliveroo and Uber Eats, causing the company to fall out of the FTSE 100 last month.

In December 2016, Just East claimed to be the first firm in the world to deliver a take-away meal by robot in a partnering with Starship Technologies, an Estonia-based robotics start-up created by Skype’s founders, to trial drone deliveries using a small six-wheeled sidewalk bot in London.

The company is facing competition today from the likes of the food delivery operation of Uber Technologies, which is looking to expand how users can pay for meals and generate more business via its website rather than its app - a key part of Just Eat’s business.

“The business is in good health,” said Mr Plumb, “Now is the right time for me to step aside and make way for a new leader.”

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Just Eat also posted a trading update Monday, with full year 2018 orders of £221m and revenue of £780m. The company previously saw revenue of £740m and £770m pounds. Guidance for 2019 is revenue of £1bn to £1.1bn, and underlying earnings before tax in the range of £185m to £205m.

Just Eat said that it expects its Latin American operations, dominated by its stake in iFood, to report an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) loss in the range of £80m to £100m. Just Eat added that it expects to grow marketplace ebitda margins year on year and for its Canadian business, SkipTheDishes, to report its first full year profit in 2019.

Cat Rock, a small hedge fund with around $850m under management, has a stake of about $50m, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Just Eat will provide further detail on its plans at its full year 2018 results on March 6.

Updated: January 21, 2019 01:14 PM

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