Just Eat Takeaway threatens to collapse like a house of cards: ‘Jitse Groen has learned nothing from criticism’

It has been restless for some time within Just Eat Takeaway, the parent company of the meal delivery company Thuisbezorgd. The company, which tried to gain world dominance by taking over other suppliers en masse, is increasingly being harassed by critical shareholders, and it also appears to be becoming a mess internally. On Wednesday, there was another riot when the chief operating officer was fired due to possible cross-border behavior.

Jörg Gerbig, the director in question, is said to have outdone himself during an event at the company, it is explained. Gerbig was supposed to be reappointed during the general meeting, but that schedule has been removed from the agenda so that his term of office ends immediately. Just Eat Takeaway has launched an investigation into the charges against Gerbig. The company keeps the possibility open that the 39-year-old German will be nominated again as chief operating officer at a later date if the result of that investigation is favorable. The riot also gave red colors to the company’s share on the stock exchange. The stock closed more than 9 percent lower.

Jack Lucas Smith

Angry Shareholders

Gerbig is not the only top executive leaving the company. Furthermore, Chairman of the Board Adriaan Nühn resigns, who is not available for a new term. Nühn’s position was under attack from a group of disgruntled shareholders, and his reappointment was far from certain. With Nühn’s resignation, TomTom founder Corinne Vigreux will temporarily take on the role of chairman of the board.

Also read | Shareholder: ‘Just Eat Takeaway CEO Jitse Groen must go’

Goofy Grubhub

It’s been a bit of a mess within Just Eat Takeaway for a while now. The biggest culprit is the acquisition of Grubhub, a US delivery platform. The acquisition was completed in 2021 for more than $ 7 billion. According to CEO Jitse Groen, Grubhub and Just Eat Takeaway would be a ‘winning combination’, but little has yet been shown. Shareholders also do not see much in this ‘winning combination’, the valuation on the stock exchange shows. More than three-quarters of the value has evaporated since the deal with Grubhub.

Also read | The parent company Thuisbezorgd.nl under severe pressure from shareholders

Cat Rock Capital, one of the major shareholders in Just Eat Takeaway with seven percent of the shares, previously demanded that the diet go through the board of directors because they had “complete loss of confidence” in the company’s management. For them, at least, CFO Brent Wissink had to leave the company. At the shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday, at least that wish from Cat Rock Capital was not fulfilled. A majority of shareholders voted for a new term for Wissink.

Financial disappointments

It is obvious that they demanded the chief financial officer. The company has presented ever-changing expectations lately. For example, it was said in 2021 that there would be a surplus of 400 million euros. That figure was later scaled down to a small loss and then a huge loss of 1 billion euros. However, revenue increased from around 4 billion euros to more than 5 billion euros. Also in 2022, Just Eat Takeaway presents constantly changing expectations. First, a growth of fifteen percent in the gross transaction value was predicted. just a little over a month later, expected growth was screwed down to just five percent.

Kees Cools, former professor of corporate finance and governance at Tilburg University, wonders why the focus was not on CEO Jitse Groen. He called Grubhub ‘one of the most wonderful companies on the planet’. What surprises me is that not all arrows are aimed at him. He is in charge of the strategy and he has determined the Grubhub acquisition and sold it to the public. ”

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Negative lead role for Jitse Groen

At the shareholders’ meeting, Jitse Groen had a rather negative leading role, noted Nico Inberg, stock market analyst at DeShareholder. ‘We’ve known Jitse Groen for some time. He’s a pretty excited, excited person. If you also look at his interviews, you see that he says it when a question comes up that is not smart. Groen also came to seem annoyed at the shareholders’ meeting, Inberg noted. ‘Pieter Taselaar, a shareholder with 1.5 per cent of the shares, was put in a corner as a little boy. He asked a question and Jitse immediately started with: ‘I do not know who you are, I had to ask Investor Relations who you were’ and ‘You communicate through the newspaper, I do not like that’. Taselaar was fired and offended. Jitse Groen has apparently learned nothing from the criticism from the shareholders. ‘

‘Keep believing in your own success for too long’

Cools recognizes the behavior of other CEOs that went well for a long time but ultimately failed. ‘They keep believing in their own so-called success for far too long, which has been gone for a long time. You also saw it with Cees van der Hoeven, the former CEO of Ahold. He became more and more ugly and aggressive in conversations with analysts. Or look at Imtech’s CEO, who was responsible for the biggest bankruptcy in the Netherlands, which left 22,000 people on the streets. He started scolding an analyst from ABN Amro. ‘

The former professor believes that top executives like Jitse Groen live in a bubble. ‘These people are at the top where it’s pretty lonely. They have gathered yes balls around them, like on Just Eat Takeaway, and then they are maneuvered into a corner. ‘ According to Cools, Groen should be more honest: ‘He should have admitted that the Grubhub takeover was a failure.’ Still, shareholders do not appear to have had enough of Groen. “He came laughing through it today,” stock market analyst Inberg describes the mood around the CEO’s future.

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