Uber revs up UK ex­pan­sion with takeover of Au­to­cab

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By

Hasan Chowd­hury

UBER has struck an agree­ment to buy Au­to­cab in a deal that will al­low more peo­ple in the UK to use the app.

Au­to­cab, based in Stock­port, pro­vides pri­vate hire and taxi op­er­a­tors with tech­nol­ogy to run their busi­ness, in­clud­ing book­ing and dis­patch soft­ware. It also con­nects them with trips through the iGo mar­ket­place.

By gain­ing ac­cess to iGo, Uber will be able to con­nect taxi driv­ers with cus­tomers in re­gions of the coun­try where it cur­rently lacks a ser­vice, such as Ox­ford and Can­ter­bury.

At present, Uber op­er­ates in 40 towns and cities across the UK, which gives it ac­cess to roughly 60pc of the pop­u­la­tion.

The deal with Au­to­cab is ex­pected to give ad­di­tional ac­cess to around 130 towns and cities.

The size of the deal has not been dis­closed. The tie-up will see Au­to­cab re­tain its own board.

It comes at a crit­i­cal time for Uber, which saw its in­come squeezed by plum­met­ing book­ings as a re­sult of strict lock­down mea­sures at the start of the pan­demic.

So far this year, Uber has cut 6,700 jobs as it at­tempts to fo­cus on its core busi­ness. It will also shut 45 of­fices in a cost-cut­ting mea­sure that could help it save $1bn (£762m) this year. Jamie Hey­wood, the boss of Uber’s Euro­pean di­vi­sion, said the deal would help lo­cal op­er­a­tors grow and pro­vide driv­ers with “gen­uine earn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

“Au­to­cab has worked suc­cess­fully with taxi and pri­vate hire op­er­a­tors around the world for more than 30 years and Uber has a lot to learn from their ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

Uber said it would work to en­sure lo­cal op­er­a­tors com­plied with safety stan­dards that have come into greater fo­cus since the start of the pan­demic.

“Work­ing with Uber, we can scale up our am­bi­tions, pro­vid­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of ad­di­tional trips for our cus­tomers, and help ce­ment the place of li­censed op­er­a­tors in their lo­cal com­mu­nity,” said Safa Alkateb, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Au­to­cab.

Uber also re­cently agreed a $2.65bn deal to buy Post­mates in a takeover that should ex­pand its reach in the food de­liv­ery sec­tor.

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