Uber founder Travis Kalanick buys London ‘dark kitchens’ firm

Travis Kalanick, CEO, City Storage Systems

London-based kitchen rental firm Foodstars is now part of a US ‘dark kitchens’ business owned by former Uber chief Travis Kalanick, it has been reported.

Regulatory filings show that Los Angeles-based City Storage Systems quietly acquired FoodStars last year as Mr Kalanick seeks to expand his global kitchen venture.

According to the Financial Times, the takeover brings CSS, which operates under the CloudKitchens brand in the US, access to more than 100 commercial kitchens in several locations across London.

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Although the acquisition took place last year, the deal had not previously been reported, possibly because CSS was keen to keep its plans under wraps from competitors.

The Financial Times said Mr Kalanick acquired a controlling stake in CSS a year ago for $150m (£114m), using some of the proceeds of a $1.4 billion (£1 billion) Uber stock sale.

He is aiming to capitalise on the fast-growing food delivery market by building a network of kitchens dedicated to serving online takeaway orders, through third party delivery apps.

“CSS is excited about its early 2018 investment in the FoodStars real-estate portfolio,” it quoted CSS as stating. “The deal included properties developed as commercial kitchen space in the London metropolitan area. We anticipate this space will help fuel job creation as local food entrepreneurs look to expand food preparation and production across London.”

There are huge similarities between the CloudKitchens and FoodStars business models, with both companies leasing out their facilities to restaurants seeking extra capacity as opposed to operating them themselves.

Last year, FoodStars director Will Beresford told FEJ how he and his two co-directors Roy Shaby and Daniel Abrahams had spotted a glaring gap in the kitchen market in 2015.

“I rented a kitchen in South London, which was operated by my now business partner Roy. We realised there was a gap in market, we had a look around the market and the standard of kitchens wasn’t very good, there were barely any in zones one and two in London so we thought ‘let’s build great quality kitchens in prime London locations’,” he explained.

The Financial Times reported that regulatory filings in California show that Uber founder Mr Kalanick created a new holding company, CSS Intl HoldCo, last August, apparently to act as a vehicle for dealmaking abroad.

It is now the ultimate parent company of FoodStars, via a new subsidiary called Flatpark Holdings, according to UK Companies House records published earlier this month.

SPECIAL REPORT: Central London kitchen rental firm lifts the lid on commercial operation

Tags : City Storage SystemsTravis KalanickUber
Andrew Seymour

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