On Friday, August 19, a dozen mayors from major cities in France, including Pierre Hurmic, mayor of Bordeaux, signed a platform to encourage the government to take steps to regulate the establishment of dark shops and dark kitchens. The first are Quick Trade operators, without storefronts, who play the role of warehouses to deliver groceries to customers in the city center in 10 to 15 minutes.
The latter are kitchen laboratories dedicated exclusively to home delivery. These ghost businesses have taken advantage of the health crisis to assault the urban centers of large cities. In Bordeaux, where the phenomenon is still contained, it is estimated that about ten brands are present, but it is difficult to count them because they are installed without authorization from the city, in areas of less than 500 m2.
Nuisance to local residents.
“Settlements have been carried out on the streets Pelleport, Prunier, on the place des Capucins, the Albret course and there is a very large noise pollution, reports Sandrine Jacotot, assistant in charge of commerce in the city of Bordeaux. Large delivery trucks run from 7 am to midnight. “These ghost businesses that dream of mini-Amazons (Gorillas, Foudie, Frichti, etc.) don’t bother to know if the installation of their activity adheres to the PLU (local urban plan) because they are too busy “taking places” points to Corporal Yvan Otschapovski, commercial technical adviser at the Bordeaux JRC.
Remember that these are mainly “unicorns benefiting from a major fundraiser” and that they can afford to “count later”. Difficult for the city alone to respond given the length of the legal challenge proceedings. “They know that they will be calm for at least two years,” sighs the sales assistant, who, however, remains combative.
A threat to independent companies?
The different operators would enter into “a fratricidal war”, according to her, at the end of which only a few will win the market. “For us, it doesn’t matter if the model is viable or not,” says Sandrine Jacotot. What matters to us is what will be the price to pay in the face of this competition, in an already difficult period for independent merchants in Bordeaux. »
Just out of the health crisis, these businesses, some of which are going digital, are baffled. And for its part, the city finds itself as a spectator of a last-mile intercity logistics organization that it should be piloting. As guarantor of the supply balance, in a city that has 7,800 businesses, including some 1,300 restaurants, the municipality is concerned about possible damage to small businesses. “It is obvious that adding merchants who form an alliance with the big distributors brings competition to the small shopkeepers”, points out Sandrine Jacotot.
For Yvan Otschapovski, this growth of dark stores, whose opening curve is no longer exponential, must be put into perspective: “This represents a turnover of 120 million in France and throughout the country, it is nothing. If you have to be attentive to these warehouses closed to customers that can contribute to the desertification of city centers, he also believes that “not all consumers adhere to this system whose image is not necessarily very positive”.
Restaurant owners take on dark kitchens
At Tatry Gallery, a Bordeaux retail space in the city center, Deliveroo recently opened ten kitchens for rent to supply its delivery service. By saving especially on room staff, it offers a cheaper offer that competes with traditional establishments. Foudie, a company from Toulouse, announced its establishment in Bordeaux on August 17. Gorillas, the first company to settle in Bordeaux, has not responded, at the time of writing this article, to requests for 20 minutes.
“We are going to leave the cities of beautiful breweries, beautiful restaurants, then it is a phenomenon [les dark kitchens] That must be stopped, warns Franck Chaumes, president of UMIH 33 (Union of hotel industries and trades). Public authorities must imperatively do so because it impedes employment. These ghost kitchens also escape the drastic controls of hygiene services and raise questions about their social policy and fiscal obligations.
For Yvan Otschapovski, restorers should take advantage of this opportunity to “get in a position to make home deliveries.” And on this logistics issue, we should not just look at the last mile but rather optimize the entire supply chain to really improve our carbon footprint. “It’s fine if you deliver by electric bike, but how do you transport your warehouses? he says. Each medal has its reverse.
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