Zomato pulls out of Lebanon as financial crisis claims another scalp

The company will shut down services by the end of the year

Petrol queues in Beirut in September. Zomato will no longer deliver in Lebanon. Bloomberg

Food delivery company Zomato has announced that it will discontinue its delivery operations in Lebanon by the end of 2021.

The firm posted a statement to its social media accounts on Wednesday, which read: “We are sorry to go … but hey, you can still continue to use our app to search and discover restaurants, as you always did.”

The Indian food delivery company, which launched in Lebanon in 2014, is the latest of a number of multinationals to leave Lebanon amid a punishing financial crisis.

Last year, soft drink giant Coca-Cola announced it was leaving the Lebanese market, while others who have withdrawn include Victoria's Secret and Adidas, which announced the closure of its stores in the country this year.

Zomato's online ordering service reached thousands of users and marked half a million app downloads by 2018, the company's Lebanon manager Bechara Haddad said.

But the company was hit hard by Lebanon’s economic crisis, which has been declared one of the world’s worst since the mid-19th century by the World Bank.

Fuel shortages have crippled transportation in the country, which struck a blow for delivery workers struggling to make ends meet.

The delivery service has also been battling a local rival – Toters.

Several Zomato drivers told Reuters that their livelihoods had been affected by “fuel rationing, petrol queues, power cuts and price hikes” in the country.

The steep devaluation of the Lebanese pound also means that salaries paid in the national currency lost more than 90 per cent of their value since the onset of the crisis in 2019.

News of Zomato shutting down delivery services in Lebanon coincided with a statement by Saudi Arabia-owned media conglomerate MBC Group, revealing plans to close down its Beirut offices and relocate to Riyadh.

Staff were given the choice to relocate or resign.

Updated: October 31, 2021, 4:45 AM