Picnic to enter France

Date : 19 February 2021

Rachel Sibson

Retail Analyst

Picnic, a Dutch pure play online retailer is set to launch in France, according to reports by Lebensmittel Zeitung. 

Launching in Lille

According to the reports, Picnic will enter France through the launch of its services in Lille. It has already created a French subsidiary, under the name Picnic SAS. The reports also mention Picnic is currently recruiting French-speaking employees for its head office in Amsterdam.

App-based offer

Picnic launched in 2015 and currently operates in more than 100 cities in the Netherlands and approximately 30 in Germany. It offers an app-based service with products only available to order through the app. Electric vehicles are used on all deliveries, with free delivery offered on all orders.  

Picnic operates its own technology and warehouses. In 2020, the retailer announced plans to launch a new automated fulfilment centre, investing €250m by the end of 2021. The robotised fulfilment centre will be in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Turnover almost doubled in 2019

Netherlands-based financial newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported that Picnic’s most recent accounts filing showed its turnover almost doubled in 2019 to €232.8m, up from €117m in 2018. However, the accounts showed that Picnic generated a loss of €44m during the year, up from €36.7m, as it invested to expand its coverage, in its delivery vehicles and other items. Its 2020 results are likely to show strong growth once more, with COVID-19 related restrictions leading to an upswing in online purchasing in the Netherlands.

Entry will add to online competition in France

France is the second largest grocery ecommerce market in sales terms in Europe, after the UK. Home to several successful online retailers, the country saw fast-paced growth in 2020, with store-based retailers adding capacity and extending the reach of their online solutions strongly during the year.

With the likes of Leclerc, Auchan and Carrefour, amongst others, adding new fulfilment options, from Pedestrian Drives to in-store collection points, Picnic will enter a highly competitive market. As such, gaining shopper attention will be a challenge for the retailer in the short term, while encouraging customers to switch to its offer over their existing provider could require high levels of investment to get them to trial its services.

However, Picnic will standout by providing a home delivery option, which is not as extensive in France as it is in some other European countries. With free delivery a key part of its offer, it could gain traction in urban areas, where delivery comes at a comparatively high cost to the shopper. Either way, its arrival in the market will add to the high level of competition between retailers in the online channel, making France a country to watch in 2021 for further grocery ecommerce developments.

Want more insight on pure play grocery retailers in Europe?

Retail Analysis subscribers can read our Ones to watch: European pure play retailers report.