Grab Holdings—the ride-hailing super app cofounded by tycoon Anthony Tan—expects the robust growth in its food delivery business to continue after net sales nearly doubled in the first quarter.
Adjusted net sales for deliveries climbed 96% to $293 million the first quarter ended March compared to the previous year, offsetting the weakness in the group’s ride-hailing business, Grab said in a statement on August 2. The company provided a quarterly financial statement for the first time as it prepares to merge with Altimeter Growth by the fourth quarter of the year.
“We are very confident that the growth momentum will continue,” Demi Yu, regional head of deliveries at Grab, told Forbes Asia in a recent interview via Zoom.
With the penetration of food delivery services in Southeast Asia still low at 11% compared to 21% in China and the U.S., Yu said there’s a lot of headroom for growth in the region. Consumers have increasingly turned to food deliveries and online shopping after being stuck at home since the Covid-19 outbreak last year as governments imposed travel restrictions and lockdowns to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“The pandemic really accelerated the growth in food deliveries,” says Yu.
In the past year, Grab added about 600,000 merchants, bringing the number of restaurants, fast-food chains and hawker food sellers on its platform to over 2 million, says Yu. About one-third of new merchants onboarded by Grab were adapting digital technologies for the first time, she adds.
The growth in food deliveries helped Grab narrow the group’s net loss to $652 million in the first quarter from $771 million a year ago. The gross merchandise value of deliveries jumped 49% in the first quarter to $1.7 billion, accounting for nearly half of the group’s total.
“Southeast Asian consumers trust Grab to meet their everyday needs in a number of ways,” group CEO Tan said in a statement when the company posted its quarterly results earlier this month. “We are excited about the emerging opportunities we see in our grocery delivery and financial services offerings.”
Tan, 39, joined Singapore’s growing list of wealthy technopreneurs whose fortunes have swelled in the past year as the pandemic boosted food deliveries, online shopping and mobile payments. Grab’s pending U.S. backdoor listing through a merger with Altimeter values the Singapore-headquartered company at nearly $40 billion, giving Tan a net worth of $790 million and the No. 47 spot on the Singapore Rich List published last week. Tan, a Singapore citizen and resident, was previously ranked among Malaysia’s richest, where he initially set up Grab in 2012.