By Lubna Hamdan
Food ordering platform which owns Zomato said restaurants are free to work with any delivery company
Zomato owner Talabat has apologised to restaurants for restricting partnerships to those who agreed to cancel their agreements with competitors Uber Eats and Deliveroo amid challenging times due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has left F&B operators relying heavily on delivery.
In a statement which came just hours after Arabian Business revealed the platform’s new move via a series of emails between a restaurant and senior Talabat executives, Mo Yildirim, Managing Director for the UAE, said restaurants on the platform have the choice to work with any delivery company.
“In these challenging times, after safety, our top priority is to ensure business continuity for everyone in our ecosystem, meaning restaurants, riders and customers and our employees. We take this very seriously, and have reached out to those restaurant partners involved to apologize and to reassure all our partners that they have the choice to work with any other platforms or providers,” he said.
The emails between the restaurant and Talabat executives said a changing market had led the platform to limit the brands it onboards to exclusively partners.
"In light with the changing market, we [Talabat] have taken the decision to onboard brands exclusively. This is done in order to focus all our support to support partners to achieve the highest possible sales and grow excessively in the market.
"With that being said, if you wish to register your brand with Talabat, we will proceed with a key partner deal… This will allow you to sign with three platforms (Talabat, Carriage and Zomato),” the emails said.
Kuwait-based Talabat is the Middle East’s largest online food delivery platform, and is wholly-owned by German firm Delivery Hero, which also owns delivery start-up Carriage.
In March it was also criticised for asking restaurants to offer 50 percent discounts in return for marketing highlights, while its subsidiary Zomato received backlash for offering to provide AED1,000 hygiene audits to restaurants amid the crisis.
However it later said it regretted having sent the email, and has since offered loans and funds to cover lost earnings for its delivery partners, which will come out of the salaries of staff who have volunteered to take pay cuts, according to a statement by the company.
Restaurants have pleaded with aggregators, some of whom charge up to 35% in commission fees, to drop their rates to help F&B operators survive the Covid-19 crisis. However none, including Uber Eats and Delivery, have responded to their calls for help.