Independent retailers have criticised Deliveroo after the online delivery provider has given Co-op an “unfair advantage” of exclusively selling tobacco through its website.   

The partnership allows customers to order tobacco, alongside groceries and drinks, from the convenience chain for home delivery. 

It is currently in a trial phase, which began in five stores across Manchester last year. The trial has since expanded to 11 other stores in London.  

Businesses using Deliveroo are free to set their own prices, but the company takes a 30% share of each individual order.

Prices listed on Deliveroo for the Co-op stores in both cities include a 30g Golden Virginia pouch for £16.90, and £12.19 for a pack of Mayfair Original Blue Superkings. 

Kay Patel, of Best-one Global Food & Wines in Stratford, East London, told RN Deliveroo had declined his request to sell tobacco when he joined two years ago. “They ignored me when I asked why. Independent retailers helped Deliveroo get started, and allowing Co-op to sell tobacco leaves a bitter taste in our mouths because it gives them more of a selling point,” he said.

One Stop retailer Sunder Sandher added: “It’s not great. It gives participating stores near independent retailers an unfair advantage.”

However, competition law expert Pinar Akman said Co-op and Deliveroo are not in breach of competition law. “There can only be a case if the service doesn’t take a significant share away from similar services that enable retailers to offer home delivery or online ordering.”  

A Co-op spokesperson said: “We have a small trial taking place in Greater Manchester and have extended this service to a limited number of London stores. 

“The focus of the trial is on fresh and frozen foods, household essentials, beers, wines and spirits, as well as snacks and confectionery.”

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