Mumbai: India’s second largest public sector oil marketer Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) has come up with a novel idea to boost revenue: it plans to open cinemas adjacent to its fuel stations on land it owns.
“We are currently putting up two pilot projects in Gujarat to see how the project works,” said chairman and managing director Ashok Kumar Sinha.
Show time: A BPCL outlet in New Delhi. The company’s chairman, Ashok Kumar, says land adjacent to its fuel stations will be developed as part of a larger community hub where families can come for an outing
The proposed single-screen theatres will come up at fuel stations which are on five or more acres of land, and are on the outskirts of smaller cities.
These will be developed as part of a larger community or entertainment hub where families can come for an afternoon or evening outing.
Sinha, however, declined to say how much the company would invest in putting up these screens. The company, which has Rs1.09 trillion in annual revenues, is currently losing money in petrol and diesel retailing.
Indian Oil Corp. is the leader in the sector.
“Films will be released at these theatres on the same day as Mumbai and other major metros, and we expect to run to full houses since new films don’t come to these towns until after two or three weeks of release,” claimed Sinha.
He is projecting revenues of Rs10 lakh per outlet annually from the film exhibition business. These hubs will also have food courts and shopping facilities in the company’s branded In & Out convenience stores.
Sinha said the company was in talks with food retailers such as McDonald’s to open outlets at these centres.
“We want to make these a total entertainment hub for the family. The family section would be entirely different from the trucker’s entry,” Sinha said.
India’s smaller towns and villages, for long neglected by marketers, are attracting retailers who have discovered pent-up demand and some big spenders in the smaller cities. That has made developing projects in smaller towns and rural marketing not just attractive but also financially viable. At the same time, companies with surplus land are finding ways of cashing in on real estate.
“BPCL has a lot of unused real estate which they are trying to utilize through this concept. The idea of a community hub would also work well as an extension of the BPCL brand,” said Harish Bijoor, a Bangalore-based brand consultant.
Bharat Petroleum’s board of directors recently amended its articles of association to allow the firm to expand its activities. Sinha said the amendments include an entry into the entertainment business.
“Combined with outdoor advertising, the single screen idea should ensure good traffic,” said Rajesh Jain of consulting firm KPMG.
“The challenge will be to keep those who come for, say fuel, to spend another two-three hours at the hubs,” Jain added.