French grocery delivery startup La Belle Vie is acquiring Frichti, another food delivery service that was placed under court-ordered receivership. TechCrunch can confirm that the court picked La Belle Vie’s offer over three other offers, as Les Échos reported earlier. This is yet another chapter in the tumultuous story of quick commerce and food delivery services in France and Europe.
As a reminder, Frichti was started in 2015 and had raised around €100 million over the years to deliver ready-to-eat meals for the lunch break. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the company expanded its offering and started delivering groceries as well.
In January 2022, when quick commerce was one of the most hyped post-pandemic startup verticals in Europe, Gorillas acquired Frichti. But things went sideways for Gorillas after that. After a rough year of layoffs, pullbacks and consolidation moves, Getir later acquired Gorillas (and Frichti).
A few months ago, Getir filed for bankruptcy in France — the company still operates in a handful of markets, such as Turkey, the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands.
A commercial court then looked at Getir’s French business to see if an acquirer could take the business out of administration. Getir and Gorillas were simply shut down by the Paris court, while Frichti went into administration.
La Belle Vie has also been around since 2015, with a different positioning. Co-founders Alban Wienkoop and Paul Lê decided to build an online supermarket from scratch with both fresh products, such as vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and cheese, as well as consumer packaged goods, such as cereals, shampoo and ketchup.
And the company’s growth rate has been slow and steady. It last raised a $28 million Series B round (€25 million) in 2021 and it reached profitability earlier this year thanks to its tech-focused approach to online groceries.
“We developed our tech from scratch from day one. We have a built our own ERP with what you call a WMS, OMS, TMS [warehouse management system, order management system, transport management system] — all in-house,” Paul Lê told me. “And that’s a real company asset that’s improved every day.”
In 2023, La Belle Vie expects to generate $60 million in revenue (€57 million) without taking into account Frichti’s revenue. In 2022, Frichti alone reported $73 million in revenue (€69 million) — 80% of that revenue comes from the Paris area.
How Frichti will operate going forward
With the acquisition of Frichti, La Belle Vie plans to keep 168 employees out of 408 in total. That’s because La Belle Vie focuses exclusively on the greater Paris area and plans to scale down from 16 Frichti delivery hubs to four delivery hubs. La Belle Vie already had 350 employees before today’s transaction.
Both services will co-exist, as they don’t have the exact same positioning. “Frichti’s brand in Paris is a great brand. We’ve been a little less visible because we’ve also raised a lot less money than them. We’ve been very tech-oriented, focused on logistics, process-oriented. And we’ve also been looking for a business model for food tech deliveries in France in general that would enable us to be profitable,” La Belle Vie co-founder and co-CEO Paul Lê told me.
At some point, Frichti had 2,500 different items. La Belle Vie currently sells 25,000 different items. Consumers who live in Paris and order food on Frichti will have it delivered from La Belle Vie’s two main hubs. Some companies relied on Frichti for their corporate cafeteria — this time, La Belle Vie will rely on Frichti’s four remaining micro-hubs.
The company is also launching a new site and app called Frichti Market. It’s a sort of editorialized version of La Belle Vie with all of Frichti’s products and some of La Belle Vie’s items. Frichti Market is limited to 6,000 items.
“They’re two different customer personas. With Frichti, the customer is going to have a very Parisian lifestyle, small families or singles who need to order some groceries and eat well,” Lê said. With La Belle Vie’s main service, the company is targeting families with large orders — it’s an online supermarket, after all.
And, of course, La Belle Vie will try to improve Frichti’s unit economics as La Belle Vie has been profitable for a few months. “We’re the only company from Western Europe that has figured out the last-mile delivery model with same-day deliveries,” Lê said. “No one would have bet on La Belle Vie.”