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Four locations in the Lille area for Dutch Picnic!

Dutch and German home grocery delivery leader Picnic is setting up in the Lille metropolis after a successful full-scale trial in Valenciennes. Founded in 2015, the e-tailer has big ambitions to conquer the French market. As proof, the company has just raised 600 million euros from its investors and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


A common-sense grocery delivery service 

Since April 2021, the people of Valenciennes have seen the exclusive arrival of a brand-new online supermarket, with a tempting promise: shopping at the same price as in-store, with the same diversity of products and free delivery. Many players in the market are launching into the fast delivery niche, such as Cajoo and Gorillas, which deliver in 15 and 10 minutes respectively. But Picnic does things differently.

Founded in the Netherlands, the company has taken the gamble of using today’s technology to reintroduce an old-fashioned concept: the milkman’s round. The promise is to deliver, free of charge, the same products as in the supermarket, at the lowest prices. To offer its customers the lowest prices and free delivery, the brand optimizes its delivery rounds with an algorithm that enables several customers in a neighborhood to be delivered efficiently. Customers shop from among the 10,000 references and choose their delivery slot in the Picnic app, and receive free delivery on D+1 within a 20-minute window.

In the Netherlands, 300 developers are working on algorithms to optimize distribution models, obtain sales forecasts, adjust processes on a daily basis and improve the services offered on the app.

In addition to low prices and free delivery, the benefits are numerous: reduced logistics costs, a clean business with zero waste, avoided home-to-supermarket commuting miles for customers (one delivery round is equivalent to a dozen customers delivered), all in electric carts.

Picnic doesn’t do a lot of marketing, relying instead on word-of-mouth and organizing local events in towns for families. In six months, 20% of households in Valenciennes have downloaded the app.

Launched in the Netherlands in 2015, then in Germany, the company is now starting to expand in France, choosing the Lille metropolitan area as the location for four new sites!

An order-picking center and three hubs in the Lille area 

To facilitate Picnic’s integration, the Hello Lille teams put the company in touch with its Dutch peers in the country, notably via the Dutch Business Network. Sharing best practices, French specificities and contacts, the network is a real asset for a Dutch company wishing to expand into the French market.

At Picnic, the supply chain is kept as simple as possible. Customers place their orders on the app before 10 p.m. in the evening, our suppliers deliver to us, and we prepare the orders in our order-picking center. They are then sent to our Hubs, which are the departure point for the electric carts that make the delivery rounds. This system enables us to offer free delivery and the lowest prices.

Grégoire Borgoltz in charge of development in France

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

  • A region with a high population density
  • The presence of many families
  • Large number of single-family homes

Neck-and-neck with Brittany and Eastern France, our region was finally chosen, with Valenciennes as the first test town.

Paris is a priority for industry players. At Picnic, we want to appeal to everyone, from families with two children to singles in a hurry. We’re not looking for buying power or internet consumption habits. Our aim is to get new people to shop in a different way.

Grégoire Borgoltz

The brand has chosen Fretin as the location for its order preparation center. There are two main reasons for this choice: a central location in the Hauts-de-France region, enabling delivery to hubs within a 150 km radius, from Amiens to Dunkirk, and the availability of a 20,000 m2 warehouse.

For its hubs, Picnic is beginning to expand in the Lille metropolitan area, with two sites in Wasquehal and Roncq, and one underway to the west of Lille. Picnic’s electric carts have been on the road since October 13, and are already making several hundred deliveries a day. Eventually, there will be three hubs serving all towns in the metropolitan area.

On the recruitment front, Picnic welcomes ten new employees every week! More than 400 people will be working at Fretin and its hubs in the metropolitan area. The company is recruiting a wide range of profiles, mainly order pickers and delivery drivers.

We’re very proud to have over 50% women in our delivery and preparation teams, which are traditionally more male-dominated. It’s a real commitment on our part. Once the business is up and running, everyone will be employed on permanent contracts, and we encourage internal promotion. For example, the managers of our Lille hubs are former delivery drivers from Valenciennes.

Grégoire Borgoltz

To recruit more specific profiles, such as data scientists or business analysts, Picnic can rely on the city’s business and engineering schools, met through the Hello Lille teams.

Since the summer of 2022, Picnic has been offering delivery to 10 towns in the Hauts-de-France region, with a new hub opening in each case. Good news for the Lille and regional employment pool!

The Hello Lille touch 

The Invest team helped to put us in touch with the local ecosystem.