Amazon launches one-hour delivery service in London

A worker handles items for delivery at Amazon's new distribution center in Brieselang, near Berlin November 28, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz/Files

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Inc launched its one-hour delivery service, Prime Now, for select areas of London on Tuesday and said it would expand the program to additional cities in the United Kingdom by the end of the year.

For a fee of 6.99 pounds, Amazon Prime members can have orders worth 20 pounds ($31.43) or more delivered in one hour, the company said on its UK website on Tuesday.

"This is just the beginning. London is our first Prime Now city in the UK and we are already working on making Prime Now available in more postcodes in London and beyond," Christopher North, managing director of Amazon UK, said in a statement posted on the online retailer's website.

The launch in London is the first time Prime Now is available outside of the United States, where it began offering the service six months ago.

Amazon Prime, the flagship membership service that launched a decade ago, has become key to Amazon's growth and a vital testing ground for new services ranging from TV and on-demand video to delivery-by-drone.

The ecommerce company said Prime's wordwide paid membership grew 53 percent last year.

Amazon said it will offer free two-hour to same-day window deliveries between 8 a.m. and midnight.

In December, Amazon launched Prime Now in parts of New York, then expanded the service to other cities including Baltimore and Miami.

(Reporting by Mari Saito in San Francisco and Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; editing by Kirti Pandey and David Gregorio)