THAILAND – Asia-focused delivery platform Foodpanda has reiterated its plans to expand its grocery offerings in Myanmar, despite the uncertainty occasioned by a military coup.

Speaking to reporters, Foodpanda Director of New Verticals Abhishek Sahay said that FoodPanda definitely has it in its plans to launch Pandamart in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Japan this year

Sahay however noted that the firm was monitoring the situation in Myanmar and that it would assess that before committing to a number of stores.

A Pandamart is a small-scale warehouse purpose-built for grocery delivery with no retail front. Items are packed in the store and delivered directly to consumers’ homes

The small warehouses are placed at key locations and leverages technology, and data intelligence to ensure groceries and household essentials can be efficiently packed and delivered to consumers within 25 minutes.

Sahay notes that the service which was launched in 2019 managed to open 150 pandamarts across 40 cities in the midst of a pandemic.

The impact of these establishments was phenomenal especially when movements were restricted to curtail the spread of Covid-19 virus.

For example, in Malaysia, pandamart became an essential service when the Movement Control Order (MCO) went into effect earlier this year, with grocery orders increasing by almost 70 percent in the single month of January 2021.

Foodpanda, alongside rivals Grab and Deliveroo, invested substantially in grocery-delivery capabilities in 2020 in response to an uptick in demand for online grocery delivery.

In Singapore, pandamart started out with five warehouses, and rapidly grew this network to 14.

When asked if demand for grocery delivery could fall with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, Mr Sahay said that pandamart has high customer retention.

He also acknowledged that the cloud grocery business is investment-heavy, but said that foodpanda aims for efficiency.

“It’s a bit different from our food-delivery business, where there’s not a lot of capex involved. Over here, there is some element of capex involved but because of our operational efficiency, because of our tech infrastructure, we are able to really optimise every dollar.”

When asked if foodpanda could move into opening traditional grocery stores, combined with delivery, Mr Sahay said: “Right now, our plan is not that; pandamarts are really purpose-built for delivery.”

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