BP to sell off US convenience stores

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BP is selling its last batch of forecourt convenience stores in the US as part of its new strategy to streamline operations.

The energy giant plans to sell more than 700 sites, employing 9,500 staff, to franchisees and jobbers – companies that purchase large quantities of fuel from a refiner for distribution to petrol stations. Currently, 95 per cent of BP's 13,000 US retail sites are operated by independent businesspeople.

The sales mark an early move by BP's new chief executive Tony Hayward to simplify the company in an attempt to return it to profitability. The move, which will be completed over the next two years, will not affect the sale of BP and the BP-owned Arco branded fuel, which will continue to be marketed by franchisees under 20-year agreements with the company. The operation will be supported by field staff and a small head office in La Palma, California. BP's Chicago-based US Convenience Retail office will be wound up and, as announced last month, the company will bring its entire convenience store operation under one brand – am/pm. The brand, which came to BP as part of its acquisition of Arco in 2000, is widely recognised in the western United States.

Fiona MacLeod, the president of BP US Convenience Retail, said: "The brand has a 30-year track record... and has seen very positive results east of the Rockies based on the value that franchisees bring to the business."

In a statement, the company revealed that the changes will eliminate 9,500 store and 350 business support posts. The move will also affect about 100 employees from BP's Pipelines and Logistics Unit. "We know that these changes will be very difficult for our employees, and we are putting measures in place to assist affected business support staff, including job placement assistance," said Ms MacLeod said. "It's been our experience that the majority of convenience store employees are retained by the new owners."