People from all walks of life are now talking about fuel prices. It’s a topic on everyone’s lips and drivers are even being forced to change their driving habits in the hope of saving a bob or two.


But is that a small glint of light at the end of the tunnel I see, or just a puff of hot air? If Chancellor George Osborne’s comments about possibly scrapping the fuel duty rise in April amount to something, the forecourt industry could be in for a welcome lifeline. While it may not ease the strain already being felt, at least it won’t make it any worse.


One must hope the Chancellor looks favourably upon the motorist but that could be doubtful given the dilemma the government faces in raising revenue and balancing the books.


It is great to see the issue being widely debated, though, and the efforts RMI Petrol has put in must not go unnoticed. Chairman Brian has tirelessly lobbied government and brought the plight of both the independent retailer and the motorist to the media’s attention. People finally understand that fuel prices are not set by robber baron retailers it’s been a good education for the punter. Brian is now on his fourth letter to the government none of which have been acknowledged I hasten to add and, in his words, has "blown the lid off" the mystery of the fuel escalator. Thanks to some clever number crunching, it’s now well and truly ’out there’ that a 1ppl duty hike means a damn sight more than that up to 4ppl and possibly even 5ppl.


What all this highlights is that independent retailers need to be on the top of their game like never before, and take a good, hard look at their businesses, striving to make them as efficient and customer-focused as possible. Retailers like Valli Forecourts (page 21) who are investing in their network are giving themselves the very best chance to ride the storm.


If you’re looking for some ideas, IFFE is the place to be (page 41). See you there.