Jokr cuts U.S. operations as rapid delivery party winds down

Company exiting Boston, NYC to focus on Latin America

National /
Jun.June 17, 2022 02:15 PM
Jokr CEO Ralf Wenzel (LinkedIn, iStock, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)

Jokr CEO Ralf Wenzel (LinkedIn, iStock, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)

The jig is up for Jokr’s United States operations.

The delivery startup is ending its delivery operations in Boston and New York City, Bloomberg reported. The pullback will affect nine micro-fulfillment centers, which have been a battleground for landlords and politicians.

Unlike other delivery startups that recently bit the dust, Jokr isn’t dead. Instead, it plans to focus its attention on Latin America, which CEO Ralf Wenzel called an “underpenetrated and underserved” in a statement.

The company is also laying off about 50 workers from its global office staff. Some staff will be retained in New York City, but the company is exploring the closure or sale of the micro-fulfillment centers across the country.

Wenzel in a statement said the country only accounted for 5 percent of the startup’s business.

This is the second area Jokr has recently retreated from after pulling back its operations in Europe. The company raised funding at a $1.2 billion valuation in December and says it has enough money to continue operating for two years and break even in roughly 18 months.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Jokr launched talks to sell its New York operations, reaching out to rivals such as Gopuff, Getir and FastAF. The company denied the report at the time.

Last April, the company harbored ambitions to turn as many as 100 storefronts across four New York City boroughs into micro-fulfillment centers to aid its goal of delivering goods to consumers within 15 minutes. The plan ran into some hiccups, but COO Aspa Lekka was optimistic there would be 80 to 100 micro-warehouses in the city in a matter of months.

Jokr has about 200 micro-fulfillment centers worldwide.

The party appears to be over for rapid delivery companies, which experienced a boom during the early days of the pandemic as consumers looked for safe ways to receive goods. Since then, landlords and politicians have both soured on the companies, which utilize so-called “dark stores” to stock its operations.

Landlords have bemoaned how the micro-fulfillment centers don’t have strong appeal in residential neighborhoods, failing to generate foot traffic and bringing the noises that come with deliveries. Politicians, meanwhile, don’t appreciate de facto warehouses operating in retail areas.

Gopuff was reported last month to be altering its operations at 22 nationwide warehouses, about half of which were set to close. All of the warehouses were dealing with a low volume of orders.

[Bloomberg] — Holden Walter-Warner





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