Restaurants implore delivery platforms to reduce fees

There have been complaints of profiteering and lack of support from aggregators

Should delivery aggregators do more to help restaurants?
Should delivery aggregators do more to help restaurants?

A number of restaurateurs in the UAE have reached out to sister publication Caterer Middle East to complain about the lack of support they are receiving from their delivery platforms - with many annoyed at aggregators trying to maximise profit while restaurants suffer.

Speaking exclusively to Caterer Middle East, Peter Lyons, COO of Silver Spoon Investments which operates Atisuto restaurants in the GCC, said he had received an email from Talabat requesting he give customers 50% off in return for a number of “marketing highlights”, but with no suggestion of commission reduction.

Now that all restaurants in Dubai have been forced to close, they are relying solely on delivery to make money, but with some restaurants having to pay up to 35% in commission per order, Lyons believes it’s time delivery platforms started working to help their partners.

“I don’t think any operator would begrudge them having some form of profit,” said Lyons, “but at the moment no one is operating in the restaurant industry with thought of making any profit, just barely breaking even is the best case scenario we can hope for. These delivery platforms don’t produce anything, and without us they have nothing, so they have to look after us.”

Alex Regnard, founder of Betawi Cafe in Dubai, said that with commission rates being so high “it may seem like it is keeping the kitchen busy and delivery sales up, but at the end of the month the profits made on deliveries are passed onto the delivery portal companies.

“Essentially, the restaurants are working to enrich the delivery companies instead of working to build a sustainable business.”

Regnard said Betawi is looking to remove itself from delivery aggregators and push its own delivery portal through its website, but not everyone can do this.

Maiz Tacos has been exclusive with one platform for several years and now wants to expand to others in a bid to drive more business, but founder Luma Makhlouf is worried that their commission rates will be increased if they go non-exclusive, despite the dire situation.

She said: “To be honest it's the toughest time for everyone but it would be nice to see someone do something to support businesses like ours. We have no funding, no support, and on top of that businesses such as delivery platforms will capitalise on opportunity during this terrible time.”

Lyons told Caterer that he thinks its time for restaurants to club together and run their own platform for no profit, or the government should step in, saying “we’re in the wild west when it comes to self-regulating”.

Prominent food writers FooDiva and Food Sheikh have both written open letters to food aggregators asking them to do more to help the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic, but none are yet to respond.

Caterer Middle East has asked Talabat to comment on its email to Peter Lyons, while both Deliveroo and Uber Eats declined to comment when asked if they would consider reducing commission.

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