John Bridgeman, director general of the OFT, said: 'In the past eight years, pump prices have fallen by about a third in real terms (without duty and VAT) largely because of keen competition between the oil companies and the supermarkets. Competition promotes market efficiency, keen prices and consumer choice, but it inevitably results in winners and losers. Supermarket volumes have grown at the expense of the traditional roadside sites.'
But Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (of which the PRA is a division), criticised the report as unrepresentative of today's fuel market, saying it will do nothing to protect the consumer. 'No mention has been made of the fact that since 1996, 2,500 sites have closed, a figure which is increasing by the day,' he said. 'Consumers in rural areas are certainly not getting a fair deal with high prices and extensive closures,' he said.