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Not only Fudy, but also Bolt food courier service in the red

Signage at a Tallinn cafe indicating that the business delivers via all three main food courier app services in Estonia: Bolt, Wolt and Fudy.
Signage at a Tallinn cafe indicating that the business delivers via all three main food courier app services in Estonia: Bolt, Wolt and Fudy. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

While food courier service Fudy is ceasing deliveries next month, though will still be functioning in other areas, market leader Bolt is also failing to make a profit, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) reported Tuesday. Competitor Wolt says it is turning a profit, however.

Jaagup Jalakas, head of Bolt's catering sector, told AK that: "Bolt Food is doing well today."

"We are still seeing a growth trend both in terms of orders and the number of active customers, and we are successfully moving towards profitability," he went on, without putting a figure on current losses.

Bolt in any case says it would welcome greater levels of competition in the market; while its main competitor, the similarly-named Wolt, a Finnish-owned firm ultimately, says that it has been in the black in recent years, one firm which has not been is Fudy – which announced yesterday that it would be wrapping up courier operations due to a lack of profitability, and concentrating on other areas.

Apollo Grupp Mauri Dorbek told AK that: "Fudy was in fact a breath of fresh air for the whole courier service sector. From our point of view, it somewhat corralled the market."

However, the market in any case may have reached saturation point, Dorbek argued, saying: "I am not convinced that any major player wants to come here at all, because the markets are not big and the investments and all that that entails will be quite large, in order to start capturing market share here."

Fudy, launched last year, was the smallest player in the food delivery market, for several years dominated by Wolt and Bolt. The latter began life as ride-hailing app Taxify just over a decade ago, and subsequently diversified into food courier services, e-scooter rentals and short-term car rentals. All these services are ordered via a smartphone app, which in Bolt's case is a separate download from the app used for taxi hailing and e-scooter rentals.

Fudy was notable in being a part of the same group which owns the Apollo entertainment provider, ultimately owned by businessman Margus Linnamäe, a pharmaceuticals magnate whose business interests also include daily Postimees and related media.

Mauri Dorbek said that restaurants and other catering businesses which are under the Apollo Grupp umbrella have not suffered due to Fudy's withdrawal from the market.

"Our brands are still quite well-recognized," he said.

"The catering brands belonging to the Apollo group are definitely those which have a very large loyal customer base that continues regardless of which app you are using as a takeaway service," Dorbek added.

The Linnamäe-owned restaurants – including the KFC franchise in Estonia – had been moved to the Fudy platform exclusively last year; now they will be returning to Wolt, Dorbek said, putting some time in mid-December as the likely date for that transition to happen.

Mantas Lomsargis, head of Wolt Baltikum, told AK that he believes there is still room for new market entrants and for growth in the market, with courier services from stores, as opposed to restaurants, being particularly relevant.

"Only about six percent of Estonian customers have ordered groceries from the store through Wolt. So we see that there is still a lot of potential here," Lomsargis said, adding that of 25 countries in which Wolt operates, Estonians seem the most eager e-commerce customers of all, according to company data.

"In the Baltic context, Wolt is a profitable company Lomsargis added.

Fudy will stop its home delivery services in December, meaning its yellow courier bags will no longer grace the backs of couriers.

Fudy reported a loss of €3.6 million last year, on a turnover of €725,000. The company is not halting operations, but instead will focus on tech solutions to allow restaurants to order and pay for their food in situ at a table, without requiring the services of wait staff in this area.

A Fudy spokesperson told ERR they had no time to provide comment on Tuesday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Merilin Pärli.

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