Amazon is stepping up its battle against British supermarkets with the launch of fresh food deliveries on Thursday.
The online specialist’s Amazon Fresh service will offer more than 130,000 groceries to homes in north and east London, including thousands of fresh produce, dairy and bakery items that the company has not previously sold in the UK.
It is the first step outside the US for Amazon Fresh, which will be offered to those signed up to the Amazon Prime subscription service. For an additional £6.99 monthly fee they can get a month of deliveries on orders worth £40 or more.
Ajay Kavan, vice-president of Amazon Fresh, said the key to the success of the service would be a combination of low prices, vast selection and fast delivery. It will be offering one-hour delivery slots to 69 postcodes in the capital with same-day delivery offered on orders placed before 1pm. Prices on selected items are intended to be slightly cheaper than at the major grocers.
Kavan said: “The bar in grocery retailing is exceptionally high. The supermarkets and grocers are among the very best retailers in the world. We will be very methodical and considered in how we roll this service out further in the UK.”
Major brand names such as Coca-Cola, Morrisons, Kellogg’s, Warburtons, Walkers and Yeo Valley will be included as well as products from about 50 small local shops, including butchers C Lidgate, Gail’s Artisan Bakery and Konditor & Cook.
Deliveries will be made in paper bags protected by chillboxes, which are used by the network of independent operators that already deliver non-food items for Amazon.
The online retailer is understood to have been testing fresh food deliveries from its depot in Bow, east London for several weeks.
The arrival of Amazon Fresh, which has been operating in the US for about seven years, comes after the online business signed a deal with British supermarket Morrisons. The Bradford-based chain has agreed to wholesale shelf-stable, fresh and frozen products to Amazon despite already operating its own website in partnership with online specialist Ocado.
UK supermarkets are already under pressure from the rise of the internet and increasing competition from discounters such as Aldi and Lidl. Amazon’s widely expected expansion into fresh food will ratchet up concerns about the major chains’ future. Sainsbury’s, for one, is in the process of buying Argos as it attempts to fight back against the potential threat.
Last September Amazon began selling frozen items via its Prime Now one-hour delivery service, which is offered in major cities, including London and Manchester. That followed the expansion of the Amazon Pantry service, which enables shoppers to fill a box of grocery items from a range of 4,000 household products, including from big brands such as Kellogg’s, Ariel, Colgate and Kronenbourg. Fresh and frozen food is not sold via Pantry.
Amazon’s expansion of its food business comes after it appointed Doug Gurr, the boss of its Chinese business and a former Asda executive, to run its UK operations. Gurr took over last month from Chris North, who has quit the company.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010