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Dutch company Picnic sets up four sites in the Lille area

Dutch company Picnic sets up four sites in the Lille area

The German and Dutch leader in online grocery shopping is expanding to Lille after successfully testing its model in Valenciennes. The online retailer created in 2015 is aiming to conquer the French market. The company has raised €600 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to prove it.


Common sense grocery delivery

Since April 2021, Valenciennes has seen the exclusive launch of the online supermarket with its tempting offer: online shopping with the same range of products and prices found in-store, and free delivery. Competitors in the fast delivery market, such as Cajoo and Gorilla, deliver in 15 and 10 minutes respectively. However, Picnic does things differently.

Launched in the Netherlands, the company uses today’s technology to reintroduce an old-fashioned concept: the milk round. The company promises free delivery of supermarket products at the lowest prices. To achieve this, the company optimises its delivery routes using an algorithm that enables efficient delivery to customers in the same neighbourhood. Customers shop from the 10,000 available items and choose their delivery slot on the Picnic app, with free next-day delivery within a 20 minute window.

In the Netherlands, 300 developers work constantly on the algorithms to optimise distribution models, obtain sales forecasts and fine-tune processes to improve service.

As well as low prices and free deliveries, there are other advantages: reduced logistics costs, zero waste, reduced customer mileage (one delivery round reaches 12 customers), all by e-van.

Picnic keeps marketing costs down, relying on word of mouth and local family events to promote the service. It’s a winning formula – within six months, 20% of households in Valenciennes downloaded the app.

Launched in the Netherlands in 2015, and then in Germany, the company is expanding into France and has chosen the Lille area for its four new sites.

picnic lille femme livraison

An order preparation centre and three hubs in the Lille area

To smooth the way for Picnic, the Hello Lille teams introduced the company to Dutch companies present in the region via the Dutch Business Network. Sharing best practice, tips about doing business in France and contacts, the network is a real asset for Dutch companies seeking to expand into the French market.

Grégoire Borgoltz is in charge of development in France: “at Picnic, we have simplified the supply chain to the max. Customers shop on the app in the evening before 10pm, our suppliers deliver to us and we prepare the orders in the order preparation centre. They are then sent to our Hubs, which is where our e-vans start their rounds. The system enables us to offer free delivery and the lowest prices.”

The choice of Hauts-de-France as a starting point is not insignificant as the region meets the company’s three main criteria:

  • A densely populated region
  • A lot of families
  • A significant number of single-family homes


The region was selected over Brittany and the East of France, with Valenciennes becoming the first test town. “Our competitors generally choose Paris. Picnic wanted to appeal to everyone, from families with two children to single people on the run. We’re not looking for purchasing power or internet consumer habits. We want new people to shop differently” explains Grégoire.

The company chose Fretin for its order preparation centre for two main reasons: a central location in the Hauts-de-France region, allowing the hubs to deliver within a 150km radius, from Amiens to Dunkirk; and the availability of a 20,000m2 warehouse.

For the hubs, Picnic is starting in the Lille area with two sites in Wasquehal and Roncq and one in progress to the west of Lille. The e-vans have been criss-crossing Lille’s roads since 13 October and are already making hundreds of deliveries each day. Eventually, there will be three hubs serving the whole urban area.

Recruitment-wise, Picnic takes on ten new employees every week. Between Fretin and the other hubs, there will ultimately be over 400 employees. The company is recruiting for a range of jobs, mainly order pickers and delivery staff. Grégoire is proud of their recruitment model: “we are proud to have more than 50% women in our delivery and preparation teams which are traditionally made up of men. This is a real commitment on our part. Once the business is fully launched, everyone will be employed on permanent contracts and we encourage internal promotion. As an example, our Lille hub managers are former delivery drivers from Valenciennes. To recruit more specific profiles such as data scientists and business analysts, Picnic can draw to the business and engineering schools in the area, which it connected with through Hello Lille.

By Summer 2022, Picnic aims to offer delivery to 10 towns in Hauts-de-France, opening a new hub each time. That’s good news for the Lille and regional job market.

Discover Picnic’s testimonial at Connect Lille, the Diamart Group’s new digital retail event.

Hello Lille Invest



The Hello Lille Touch: the Invest Team introduced Picnic to the local business community.

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