France's dark stores pulled out amid regulatory crackdown

France's dark stores pulled out amid regulatory crackdown

France's former dark stores are thriving, thanks to steep financial losses and hostile regulations, which are pulling down the shutters for good.

After complaints from locals and fears of unfair competition, the dark stores can no longer be classified as shops, but only as warehouses.

The new measures came into force on July 1st, but already the two main companies in ultra-quick commerce - Getir, a Turkish firm, and Germany's Flink - had announced they were leaving France.

The decision is inevitable because of the tough economic climate, a hostile regulatory environment and an absence of potential buyers, Gorillas and Frichti said in a statement. It gave Frichti three more months to find a buyer. The court will rule on Flink's fate in the summer.

At their peak, 12 different operators operated at their peak some 80 locations in Paris alone. The industry employs about 2,200 people, mostly permanent contracts.

Paris city officials were happy with the pull-out. The dark stores are over, said deputy mayor Emmanuel Gr goire, evoking their predatory capitalistic behaviour. The shelves of commonly bought goods were stacked into bags and waiting to be handed to messengers.

But locals said they were not content with the constant noise from squads of deliveryers, while city planners said the model threatened to drain life from the public space and create a society of home-bound consumers.

The ability to receive food delivery in France will remain possible through Internet operators like Uber Eats and Deliveroo that work in cooperation with supermarkets.

Campaigners against quick commerce say that ironically, staff in dark stores - being on full-time contracts - were better protected than freelance couriers employed by online platforms.