‘Don’t call it a comeback’: Woolworths to bring back Milkrun

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Woolworths plans to resurrect the fallen rapid grocery retailer Milkrun imminently, teasing its planned reappearance with an Instagram video of an arcade machine restarting on Wednesday.

The company built throngs of devoted customers with its ultra-fast deliveries and reasonable pricing over the last two years before failing to secure more funding and shutting its doors as investors became leery of cash-burning start-ups.

Its failure, along with several other delivery companies backed with more than $100 million in venture capital funding collectively, came to symbolise the boom and bust of a start-up bubble fuelled by low-interest rates and lockdowns.

In that time Woolworths built its own quick delivery system in partnership with Uber called Metro60, which could be rebranded as the new version of Milkrun.

The nature of Woolworths’ transaction with Milkrun is unclear, but one possibility is that it has bought Milkrun’s customer list and brand rather than physical assets. If so, it would solve major weaknesses for Milkrun, which previously had to lease its own expensive warehouses in inner-city locations and negotiate individual deals with suppliers at a much lower scale than Woolworths. Under such a deal it will be part of a retail behemoth, while Woolworths would get a trendy brand that younger customers loved.

Both sides were contacted for comment on Wednesday evening and declined to respond immediately.

Despite Milkrun’s decision to close its doors last month, the company co-founded by entrepreneur Dany Milham never went into administration like almost all failed companies and technically continued to trade.

At the time, Milham said: “We’ve always been committed to doing things the right way, and winding down the business while we still have a sufficient cash balance enables us to ensure our people and suppliers are paid in full.”

Milkrun had been losing $13 per order at one of its best stores last year and spending $57 to acquire each customer.

“Don’t call it a comeback (but please do, it’s been dark days since you left),” one Milkrun customer wrote on Instagram after seeing the company’s teaser post. As of Wednesday evening, Milkrun’s app was still available online but greets users with a message saying “We are closed”.

More to come.

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