Stuart, the last-mile delivery company, is eyeing a “shorter timeline” to profitability after its acquisition by a private equity firm closed.
London-based Stuart was recently acquired by Mutares, which bought the delivery company from international parcel delivery giant Geopost.
“[The acquisition] is giving us a bit of runway in terms of how much money we have and also how we want to deploy that. Today the view is to achieve profitability on a shorter timeline depending on the opportunities and also how the market evolves,” chief executive Cornelia Raportaru said.
“That could also change. Thankfully we are not necessarily under that sort of pressure. My philosophy is that it is good to not live on a credit card,” she added.
Stuart operates in 100 cities in Europe and carries out deliveries of food, groceries and retail goods with partnerships with large businesses and SMBs.
Stuart booked revenues of €400 million – more than $420 million – in 2022. Raportaru did not disclose any figures for 2023.
To achieve profitability, Stuart intends to home in on its existing markets rather than look at growing its market footprint in Europe.
“From a geographical footprint today, we’re comfortable with where we are but for me I always keep an eye open on opportunities because this is a very dynamic space. Especially in the last 24 months there have been quite a few changes in the landscape.”
Shifting focus to profitability has been a recurring theme in the last-mile, food and grocery delivery space after years of rapid-fire growth, fueled by venture capital. That growth has stalled significantly in the last two years as companies re-strategize and focus on particular markets and verticals. This has manifested itself in job cuts and companies exiting several countries.
Raportaru said that while her rivals and peers have slashed jobs, Stuart has not done so.
“It’s something that I need to continue to evaluate,” she said.
“Profitability also sets a certain type of culture in the company that is in some ways always better but obviously it can’t be profitability through just cutting costs because then it becomes much more complicated to have a sustainable business over time,” she added.
Stuart operates in the UK and mainland Europe and Raportaru notes some differences in the way that customers use Stuart and delivery services generally.
Food remains the dominant vertical in delivery in Europe while grocery delivery is the most mature in the UK. Retail goods meanwhile lags behind when compared to the uptake of last-mile delivery for consumer goods by Stuart’s counterparts in the US.
“If you look closely at Europe, a lot of the volume is driven through restaurants,” Raportaru said.
“My hope is that also the retail space is going to grow more in line with the US, but I have not seen yet the same level of appetite in Europe that we [see] in our information from the US market,” she said.
Stuart recently signed a number of new partnership deals to improve its delivery operations, including with software companies UrbanPiper and Deliverect to help restaurants streamline and manage their delivery operations.
Looking to the year head, and the goal of profitability, Raportaru said that Stuart will look at developing new services in its existing markets to complement its presence there.
“We continue to innovate on how that delivery is being done. Sometimes it’s through new product features that allow you to sign on delivery or to ensure that there might be the collection of multiple packages on the way etc.,” she said.
“Some of the clients are asking us to take care of more of their end-to-end customer experience so for example we have clients [where] we run their customer support at the time of delivery so if there are any issues on the delivery, we would process all those issues.”