Bolt Food is closing up shop in South Africa

Bolt, the ride-hailing and delivery company, has announced the closure of its Bolt Food service in South Africa, effective December 8, 2023. The decision to discontinue food delivery operations in the country is attributed to business considerations, aiming to streamline resources and enhance overall efficiency. Despite this move, Bolt emphasizes its unwavering commitment to other verticals in South Africa, affirming its dedication to delivering high-quality services.

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Bolt Food initially debuted in Cape Town in April 2020, expanding to Johannesburg in October 2021, serving approximately 800 restaurants in Cape Town and 300 in Johannesburg. While there were plans to extend its presence to Pretoria and Durban, those aspirations were never realized. The service, led by country manager James Townsend-Rose, sought to challenge competitors like Uber Eats and Mr D Food by undercutting prices. Bolt Food aimed to provide better value, initially implementing a flat 15% entry-level commission fee for restaurant partners, significantly lower than the 30% maximum commission charged by competitors.

The platform’s strategic vision included nationwide expansion across all 23 cities and towns where Bolt operated its ride-hailing services. Townsend-Rose acknowledged the market share of rivals but believed Bolt Food could deliver a brand proposition focused on better value. While Bolt Food presented competitive pricing in December 2022, the company decided to cease its South African food delivery operations in December 2023.

An additional aspect of the evolving e-hailing and food delivery landscape involves the emergence of third-party helper services such as Lula Rides. These services support individuals aspiring to become drivers by assisting in obtaining a learner’s license, providing practical scooter training, and facilitating entry into various platforms, including Uber, Uber Eats, Mr D, Bolt, One Cart, and Woolies Dash.

Unfortunately, Bolt Food will no longer be part of this array of services starting December. The company’s decision aligns with its strategic focus on optimizing resources and maintaining efficiency in the evolving South African market.