‘Dark kitchens’ might be a term associated with off-site delivery catering hubs, but it is not one that you are likely to hear bandied about in the corridors of Deliveroo HQ.
The company refers to them as ‘Super Kitchens’ because they are designed specifically for delivery and cooking.
“Dark kitchens came out when people were initially quite sceptical about the [concept],” says Joe Carberry, director of communications at Deliveroo. “That use of it is quite specific to the UK — in other markets the term is not used in a negative way.
“I think it is used less now as people become more comfortable and used to them, but we routinely take journalists around the sites to show that they are not dark, they do have windows, and they all have quite high FSA ratings and are routinely inspected.
“We have put quite a lot of effort into dispelling all of the negative connotations that you could have with the concept of a ‘dark kitchen’ because a lot of effort and resource goes into making sure that they are state-of-the-art.”
Although it is often reported that other platforms are moving into this area, Mr Carberry insists there isn’t another entity that has the same kitchen infrastructure or which can combine its extensive logistics expertise with the network of riders and restaurants it does.
“Having moved into it first in 2016, when the initial site was launched, we think we have got quite a competitive advantage in having the expertise in knowing how to set up and run those sites with multiple kitchens and having the riders and having the restaurants,” he said.
“You might have companies that can provide one of each of those but not necessarily be able to have all three, and the customer base as well, obviously.”
Deliveroo Editions launched in April 2017 and currently operates from 16 locations around the UK. It runs 200 kitchens through Editions, housing small independent brands alongside multi-site high street chains.