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Now, theatres at petrol pumps!

September 11, 2007 07:47 IST

After ATMs and grocery outlets, petrol pumps will soon have single-screen movie theatres. Travellers along the highway will now be able to relax at these theatres while taking a break.

Petroleum major Bharat Petroleum Corporation plans to introduce single-screen movie theatres at its Ghar outlets, which is a one-stop convenience shopping facility for truckers and travellers.

George Paul, general manager (brand and ARB), Bharat Petroleum Corporation, said, "People from small towns have to pay steep ticket rates to watch a movie at the nearest city. This year the company is thinking of introducing low-cost single-screen movie theatres at some of the Ghar outlets in tier II and tier III cities."

Currently, BPCL has 70 spacious Ghar outlets, built on 3-5 acres of land, of which 40 per cent is earmarked for fuelling facilities and the rest for non-fuelling activities. Paul said over a period of three years, the company intends to open 200 such retail outlets, on every 250 km of the golden quadrilateral.

Typically a Ghar outlet provides various services to the truckers such as laundry, hair dressing and kirana shop, emergency services, dhaba and community kitchen as well. The company is also in the process of providing amphitheatres and children's play area as a part of its new rollout.

Explaining the rationale behind highway retailing, Paul said, "There is increased mobility on highways due to higher disposable incomes, good infrastructure and better quality of vehicles. Hence there is a need for basic amenities on highways not only for truckers but also for travellers."

The company also intends to offer additional services for its Smart Fleet customers. It has entered into an understanding with Vaishnav Devi temple and is in talks with other popular pilgrim destinations such as Tirupati and Shirdi for similar arrangements.

Currently, BPCL operates 320 In & Out stores, which it plans to scale to 400 this year. In the next three years, the company expects to open 1000 retail outlets, with non-fuelling activities contributing about 30 per cent to the company's revenues.

Paul said that non-fuelling initiatives were helping the company retain its customers and attract new ones. For instance, the company aims at a revenue of Rs 11,000 crore (Rs 110 billion) from its loyalty programmes, Petro Card and Smart Fleet. Last year, Petro Card, with 2.4 million customers, contributed Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) to the company's kitty, while Smart Fleet's share was Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion).

"The retail activities are giving a healthy per square feet returns to the company. Initially, there was resistance from dealers, but in Delhi, almost 20 per cent of the revenues of the pumps come from non-fuelling activities," he said.

Tejal A Deshpande in Mumbai
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