Deliveroo shares fell as much as 30% in the company’s highly anticipated London IPO on Wednesday, wiping out roughly £2.3 billion ($3.2 billion) in market value and dealing a blow to the city’s renewed efforts to attract tech company listings.
The stock was last trading at around £3.00 ($4.14), about 23% below the price at which the shares listed.
Deliveroo had set the IPO price at £3.90 ($5.36) per share, the bottom of the range it was targeting, despite saying earlier this week that it had “very significant demand from institutions across the globe.” At that price, the Amazon-backed food delivery company was valued at £7.6 billion ($10.5 billion).
But questions about the company’s business model and future prospects in a competitive environment for food delivery ruined its stock market debut. Deliveroo has yet to turn a profit and some investors are concerned that the pandemic boom in food delivery will fade when restaurants reopen. Pressure is also building for delivery riders to be offered better terms and conditions.
“If forced to offer more traditional employee benefits, like company pension contributions, Deliveroo’s already thin margins would struggle to climb, and the road to profitability would look very tough indeed,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, an equity analyst at Hargreaves-Lansdown.
Several large institutional investors, including Aberdeen and BMO Global Asset Management, said last week that they would not participate in Deliveroo’s IPO because they had concerns about competition and regulation, and the way the company treats its delivery riders.
The UK Supreme Court upheld a ruling last month that Uber drivers should be classified as workers, and not independent contractors, entitling them to minimum wage, paid vacation time and a pension. The ruling prompted Uber to reclassify its drivers — but not its food delivery couriers — as workers, and could force other gig economy companies to rethink how they operate.
“Deliveroo faces significant pressure from the market leader, Just Eat Takeaway, which is investing heavily to improve its restaurant coverage and delivery proposition, through an ’employed rider’ model,” Philip Webster, director of global equities at BMO Global Asset Management, said in a statement.
“We also see headwinds to Deliveroo’s revenue growth as we exit lockdown and customers return to dining out in restaurants. These revenue risks are further compounded by the issues around workers’ rights and a potential regulatory change, which would hamper its path to profitability,” Webster added.