India’s BPCL to open movie halls at gas stations

India’s BPCL to open movie halls at gas stations

By Reuters

Mumbai: India’s state-run refiner, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd has launched a pilot project to build cinema halls at its gas stations along highways to boost revenue, a company official said on 20 September.

“We are introducing this concept to increase our non-fuel revenues and also bring in an element of entertainment for our highway customers," Keshav Shenoy, general manager at BPCL’s highway retailing, said.

BPCL, India’s third-largest oil refiner, runs 7,500 retail outlets across India. The company has tied up with Cinemata, a film distribution unit of Sony Entertainment Television, to source content and also to help set up the single screen cinema halls, Shenoy said.

The refiner has invested Rs10 million ($250,000) on two pilot projects in the western state of Gujarat, where it will beam movies via an existing satellite link, he said. “If our plan is successful, we want to replicate the concept at more than 300 large retail outlets by 2010," Shenoy said.

India’s state-run oil firms are under pressure because of government controls over fuel pricing. State firms that include Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and BPCL together lose Rs1.5 billion a day in revenue as they are compelled to sell fuel at lower prices even as oil hovers near record highs.

Companies are turning to non-core activities like opening convenience stores, food and entertainment at their retail outlets to generate revenue.