Amazon has begun selling groceries online in Birmingham as it gears up for a full launch of Amazon Fresh early next year.

Retail Week understands the online retailer will offer consumers in Birmingham one-hour delivery on about 50 key chilled food products from today as it seeks to test the network. And it is expected the trial will launch in London next month.

The development is believed to be an attempt by Amazon to test the supply chain ahead of a full roll-out of Amazon Fresh, the online grocery service it has already launched in the US.

Amazon Fresh is due for a full launch in the UK in February or March, a source close to the project told Retail Week.

An Amazon spokesman said: “Prime Now customers already benefit from ultra-fast delivery on everything from essentials like bottled water, coffee and nappies. We are excited to be adding a range of chilled and frozen items to this selection as we continue to expand the number and variety of products that can be ordered for delivery within 60 minutes.”

Chilled grocery products available to customers in Birmingham include Pukka Pies, Chicago Town pizzas, Ben & Jerrys ice cream, orange juice, Kingsmill bread and Birds Eye fish fingers.

All Prime Now deliveries for Birmingham are being delivered from Amazon’s warehouse in Erdington, a suburb of Birmingham.

Amazon is leasing a warehouse from Logicor, a 257,855 sq ft site in Bardon, Leicestershire, which is ideally located to distribute goods to Birmingham.

The warehouse, GT257, is part of Interlink Business Park in the heart of the Midlands Golden Triangle – one of the UK’s most popular distribution locations.

Sources familiar with the situation said that Amazon was “close” to agreeing a lease on another UK warehouse to support the launch of its Fresh proposition.

Food warehouses

Amazon has already taken on Logicor’s 304,751 sq ft Logic305 warehouse, which is similar in size to Ocado’s first warehouse in Hatfield, which measures 300,000 sq ft. 

The building already has some food-handling facilities such as chiller cabinets, but Retail Week understands this has been kitted out by Clegg Food Projects, which creates processing and distribution facilities for the food and drink industry across the globe.

In the US, Amazon charges $99 (£63.56) for an annual Prime subscription, with an additional $200 (£128.40) per year billed to Amazon Fresh customers for deliveries. It is currently only available to residents of Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego and Philadelphia.

About 5% of US online shoppers say they belong to Amazon Fresh.