NEW YORK--Peapod.com, one of the last Internet delivery grocery services, is flexing its brand muscle by eliminating free delivery services to consumers in Boston and Chicago. The company, a division of international supermarket retailer Royal Ahold, already charges for delivery in its other three markets: Washington, D.C., southern Connecticut, and Long Island, N.Y. Peapod was able to eliminate free deliveries in part because such competitors as Webvan and Homeruns.com have gone out of business.
"The elimination of free delivery was needed to help the company reach its goal of profitability by the second half of 2003," said Paula Wheeler, director of corporate communications for the Skokie, Ill.-based company. "We're making an adjustment to the fees to make sure we're viable long term." She added that Peapod has seen its business jump 40 percent in the Boston area and 30 percent in the Washington, D.C. territory since Homeruns shut down in July.
Peapod reported a net loss of $15.5 million for the first quarter of 2001, compared to $12.7 million in the same three-month period in 2000. A second-quarter report was postponed when Ahold announced that it was purchasing the remaining 42 percent of Peapod it did not previously own.