Just Eat

Just-Eat is a middle man. It enables you to order takeaway food from a long list of food delivery restaurants. Revenues surged 59% in its latest half-year period, while underlying profit rose 107%.

David Buttress, the company’s chief executive said: “Our determination to enhance the Just-Eat service for both consumers and restaurants is paying off and gives us the confidence to increase our revenues and underlying EBITDA guidance for the full year.”

Just-Eat was founded in 2001, it is headquartered in London, is listed on the FTSE 250, but trades in 13 countries across the world. Customers looking to order a takeaway online have a choice of 20,000 fast food restaurants, although getting food from some of them might be something of a trek.

Just-Eat says: “You’ll find us in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.”

It’s full of ideas on innovation, for example, the company has been testing delivery by robots in London – that is to say real robots, not the robots we see, and indeed feel like, on the London Underground in the morning.

Actually, Just-Eat’s growth was on a slow burner for much of its history. Impressive as the company now is, with an EBITDA – that’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – of £53.4 million in the first half, for an online company set-up in 2001 the growth rate since inception feels quite slow. Maybe it is, but we have clearly seen a sharp acceleration. Furthermore, the company has upgraded profit forecasts for the second time in three months.

But Just-Eat surely illustrates how new technologies are impacting on traditional business models. For one thing, it is providing an opportunity for independent takeaways – a way for them to market themselves and encroach upon the market share enjoyed by the more established players. For another thing, it promotes near perfect competition, that is to say perfect competition in the economic sense, granting consumers almost perfect knowledge of products available, creating strong price competition.