A super-fast delivery warehouse which also operated as a regular grocery store in Amsterdam West is the latest in the Dutch capital to be forced to close down.
Judges upheld a council ruling that a branch of Flink on the Nassaukade was in contravention of zoning regulations and must close by Thursday, reports the Parool.
The store, first kitted out as a warehouse and later refitted to function partially for customers to pick up orders, offers customers deliveries of groceries to their doors in a matter of minutes, day and night.
But Amsterdam municipal council has announced that it will ban such warehouses – known as ‘dark stores’ as many were initially blacked out – from residential and almost all mixed-use areas.
The municipality announced a new policy in January after receiving thousands of complaints about excessive noise nuisance for neighbours during long working hours, plus delivery bikes and vans creating noise and taking up public space.
There has since been a series of court cases, with major players Getir and Gorillas also protesting closures. A branch of Getir was partially refitted as a shop, but failed to convince a judge that this was its primary function and was ordered to close in July.
In the latest court case this week, a judge ruled that there was ‘no concrete prospect for legalisation’ of the Nassaukade store, that Flink could not demonstrate how many of the store’s customers came in person, and that it was primarily a warehouse for delivery. The store, the court heard, made €400,000 per month and more than 1,000 customers had visited in the past six months.
However the court found it created a ‘greater impact on liveability’ than a normal shop, and ordered it to close within days.
Four international start-ups have been competing to dominate the ‘flash’ delivery market in the Netherlands, which grew substantially during pandemic lockdowns.
But partially as a result of clashes with regulators, as well as more pressure from investors, this year, Zapp announced it was exiting the Dutch market. Bloomberg reported this week that Getir is in ‘advanced talks’ to buy Gorillas.
Stefan de Bruijn, a spokesman for Flink, said it was considering its next action: ‘Flink regrets the ruling of the court about the location on the Nassaukade in Amsterdam,’ he told Dutch News.
‘This location has really taken on a neighbourhood function in a short time, with many visitors for groceries, postal parcels, etc…The company has several locations in Amsterdam and Amsterdammers can continue to use Flink.’
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