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FedEx ends ground-delivery deal with Amazon

Aug. 7, 2019
Decision quickens company’s retreat from the largest online retailer two months after FedEx said its Express unit would no longer fly Amazon’s packages in the U.S.

By Thomas Black

(Bloomberg) — FedEx Corp. is snipping another tie with Amazon.com Inc. as the e-commerce giant emerges as a competitor by building its own shipping network.

The ground-delivery contract with Amazon won’t be renewed when it expires at the end of this month, FedEx said in an emailed statement. The decision quickens the company’s retreat from the largest online retailer just two months after FedEx said its Express unit wouldn’t extend an agreement to fly Amazon’s packages in the U.S.

“This change is consistent with our strategy to focus on the broader e-commerce market,” FedEx said in the statement. Recent moves to bolster service “have us positioned extraordinarily well” to handle demand, it said. The courier will still have a contract with Amazon for international deliveries.

FedEx is reducing its dependence on Amazon as the online retailer builds out a logistics network with hundreds of fulfillment centers and adds next-day air capacity with leased jets. Amazon is also starting a home-delivery service modeled after the contractor-based ground unit at FedEx, which flagged the competitive risk in its latest annual report to U.S. regulators.

FedEx fell 0.1 percent to $161 a share in pre-market trading in New York. Amazon fell 0.4% to $1,781.

E-commerce deliveries

Amazon made up about 1.3% of FedEx’s sales last year. To scoop up more e-commerce business, FedEx announced in May that its ground unit would begin seven-day service in January, deliver more packages that had been handed off to the U.S. Postal Service and invest to handle oversized packages.

The Memphis, TN-based company has also signed up more drop-off and pick-up points, including with Dollar General Corp. FedEx is even testing a ground-delivery robot.

Longtime rival United Parcel Service Inc., the largest U.S. courier, is taking a different tack by continuing its relationship with Amazon. Analysts have estimated that the retailer’s pledge to expand overnight deliveries fueled a 30% spike in UPS’s domestic next-day volume in the second quarter.

UPS hasn’t said how much revenue it generates from Amazon, but if the total were more than 10%, the courier would be obligated to disclose the information in regulatory filings. The amount is probably close to that threshold, according to analyst estimates.

Profit pressure

The surge in e-commerce business has been a double-edged sword for FedEx and UPS by spurring sales growth while squeezing profit margins since home-deliveries are more costly to handle than drop-offs at commercial customers.

In June, FedEx said it was in a “transition year” as it seeks to drive down costs and fix an ailing European business. The company forecast a mid-single-digit percentage drop in earnings for the current fiscal year, which ends in May.

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