Amazon and Repsol strike parcel pick-up deal

Andrew Ward

Maria Calhoun audits outgoing shipments at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Tracy, California.
Noah Berger | Reuters

Repsol has agreed a deal with Amazon that will allow people to pick up parcels at its filling stations in the latest signs of oil companies widening the range of services available through their retail networks.

Customers will be able to receive deliveries at many of Repsol's almost 4,000 outlets across Spain and Portugal, as the service is rolled out over the next two months. It follows a trial of the service in some of Repsol's 320 sites in Italy.

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The deal is part of wider efforts by Amazon and other online retailers to provide convenient pick-up locations for parcels that avoid customers having to wait at home for deliveries.

It also highlights renewed focus by oil and gas companies on the consumer appeal of their retail networks, which have become a more important source of cash generation in an era of relatively low oil prices.

"We're adding new products and services to our forecourts to take advantage of the fact we have more face-to-face contact with consumers each day than almost any other brand in Spain," said Josu Jon Imaz, Repsol chief executive.

The Amazon Locker service to be introduced at Repsol outlets is already widely available in the US and at more than 1,300 locations in the UK, including some Jet filling stations operated by the US oil company Phillips 66.

However, Repsol's deal has the potential to be among the biggest click and collect partnerships with Amazon in Europe. Customers are sent a code by Amazon which opens the locker containing their parcel.

Repsol has also introduced car-sharing services and charging points for electric vehicles at some filling stations. This further diversifies the facilities' appeal at a time when falling car ownership among young people and the rise of electric vehicles threatens to curb long-term demand for fuel.

Until recently, retail operations were a neglected and sometimes unwanted part of the energy industry.

Many filling stations were sold off by energy groups during the era of $100 per barrel oil, as investors questioned the point of selling petrol and sandwiches to consumers when there was much more money to be made in exploration and production.

However, that thinking has changed since the crash in crude prices in 2014 and oil companies are once again investing in retail businesses and touting them as a strong and reliable source of income.

BP agreed to pay $1.3bn in December to buy 527 Australian filling stations and convenience stores from Woolworths, and it is expanding a food retailing partnership with Marks & Spencer in the UK.

Bob Dudley, BP chief executive, told investors last week that retail was an important part of the group's target to increase earnings from its downstream refining and marketing division by $3bn between 2014 and 2021.

He said: "We have people coming to our stations that are not buying petrol now. They come for the convenience offer."