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Fuel retailers warn over supermarket share

Forecourt fuel pumps

New data from Government confirms that Supermarkets now have a much higher share of the UK market for retail transport fuels than previously thought, increasing pressure on independent fuel retailers.

The latest combined total for petrol and diesel sees an increase to 46.5% in 2012. This compares with the official total of just 39% for 2011 quoted in the Deloitte study and also 39% for 2012 stated in the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report.

The statistical data on retail fuel volumes since 2008 has recently been revised on the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) website

Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, said: "5,000 forecourts have closed since 2000, another 175 closed last year and the independent retailers are continuing to get massacred by the aggressive discounting and below cost sales tactics by supermarkets.

"There was considerable complacency evident in the Deloitte and OFT reports which assumed that supermarket’s volumes were levelling off and so the market was steady. However, we warned Government that the 2012 Christie study indicated that supermarkets are trying to open up to 50 new forecourts for each of the next four years."

This data revision indicates that the average large supermarket refuelling site sells 12 million litres per year and independents 2 million litres.

According to the Petrol Retaillers Association every new-to-industry opening by a hyper could suck up the entire fuel volume of six independent retailers in the local area and jeopardise the business of at least 10 existing forecourts every year if such expansion proceeded.

The organisation claims it will be bad for competition, bad for consumer choice, bad for jobs at local family firms and bad for rural communities.

Madderson added: "This re-jigging of key market information underpins our members’ real concern that the UK’s energy resilience for retail fuels is at stake. If this situation is allowed to continue, there will be an inevitable acceleration in the number of site closures to more than 300 per year. Thus there will be a severe worsening of supply resilience from fewer sites with low stockholdings. 

"This should ensure that our request to DECC for a round table review of the independent forecourt industry will receive the full attention of Michael Fallon MP, Minister for Energy, in the coming weeks."

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  • Uncle D - 08/08/2013 15:04

    Its basic math really. Why would anyone want to pay 141.9ppl when two minutes down the road they can pay 136.9? People are feeling the squeeze these days and are looking to save every penny, if independents want to sell fuel they will need to find a way of staying competative.

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