BP is to sell all of its company-owned and company-operated convenience stores in the US. The majority of the stores - which total more than 700 - will go to franchisees and some will be sold to dealers and large distributors.

The company said the sale of the convenience stores would be completed over the next two years and the sites will continue to market BP fuels in the eastern US and ARCO fuels in western US. The franchise agreement is 20 years and requires sites to be supplied with BP OR ARCO branded fuels during that time. BP did not give an estimate of how much it expected to raise from the sales.

Fiona MacLeod, president of BP US Convenience Retail, said: “By tapping into the entrepreneurial experience and knowledge of local station owners, we will build a strong franchise network that will help us grow our us grow our business.”

The company owns a total of 13,000 retail sites in the US. More than 10,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the move. MacLeod added: “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. It’s been our experience that the majority of convenience store employees are retailed by the new owners.”

A spokesman for BP in the UK said the announcement concerned only the company’s convenience store operations in the USA; not BP operations anywhere else in the world. He added: “This is the right move for our US business. It allows them to focus on our most successful brand in this market - ampm - and most appropriate method of operating. But all markets are different, and elsewhere in the world we will continue to build on the success of our BP Connect and Aral (in Germany) operations with mixtures of company-owned and company-operated sites, dealer sites, franchises and other arrangements depending on what is most appropriate. We have no plans to replicate this move elsewhere.”