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Deliveroo serves up online-only eateries and menus

It says this allows chefs to be more creative, while increasing revenue for restaurants; experts warn of brand dilution

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Deliveroo CEO Will Shu with Sarah Jane Lin, 32, founder and owner of Wolf Burgers, in the kitchen of the newly launched second Deliveroo Editions. The 3,657 sq ft central delivery kitchen at CT Hub in Lavender has chefs from seven restaurants.

Singapore

VIRTUAL food brands and menus that only exist on online platforms may become the next step for the food and beverage (F&B) industry.

Online food delivery company Deliveroo has teamed up with its Singapore restaurant partners at Deliveroo Editions to roll out these virtual brands, which are currently exclusive to Deliveroo.

This was announced at the launch on Monday of the second Deliveroo Editions - a 3,657 square feet central delivery kitchen in Lavender with chefs from seven restaurants.

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Restaurants at Deliveroo Editions will be able to increase revenue by delivering new or complementary cuisines under these separate virtual brands, with the aid of Deliveroo's data analytics, the company said.

For example, a sushi operator might be encouraged by Deliveroo to start a Poke - Hawaiian raw fish salad - virtual brand, because of similar ingredients and growing demand for the dish.

Will Shu, founder and chief executive of Deliveroo compared the virtual branding service to software development, where restaurants can experiment and run different tests with their food.

"But these brands are meant to be supplementary to their core brands as well. This allows the creativity of the chef to come alive more."

Deliveroo said a virtual brand will appear as a separate restaurant on Deliveroo, not just as extra items on an existing menu.

Mr Shu added: "Because we work across 12 different countries and markets, we know global trends pretty well. Our aim is to spot global trends - either originating from Singapore, or potentially bringing them to Singapore."

Korean restaurant Dosirak, which serves Bibimbap (Korean mixed rice), will be introducing Korean stews, grills and fried chicken, under the virtual brands.

Dosirak owner Eugene Chia said Deliveroo gave them advice based on their data to explore other aspects of Korean cuisine, because it was underserved for the area around the Deliveroo Editions site in Lavender.

"We are a smaller unit in the CBD (central business district). Over here, it is a bigger kitchen space for us to play around and look for newer recipes."

He also said Dosirak would consider bringing the new food items to their physical restaurants if they do well.

Analysts believe virtual branding can benefit restaurants, but they need to be careful of long-term effects.

Nanyang Business School adjunct associate professor Lynda Wee said a lack of association with parent brick- and-mortar restaurants could be an area of concern.

Singapore Management University associate professor of marketing education Seshan Ramaswami said: "Maintaining a separate virtual brand might even dilute the restaurant brand, if the virtual brand is better than the dine-in brand."

Dr Wee, however, acknowledged that the data obtained allows Deliveroo to move up the value chain and "curate dishes with restaurants to create a virtual brand".

She added that the move towards virtual brands ultimately creates incentives for restaurants to join Deliveroo.

"Deliveroo wants to get out of the price competition, so even if they charge a higher commission, you would go with them."

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