Right, before you do anything else this month, make sure you download a copy of the Office of Fair Trading’s questionnaire http://www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/markets-work/othermarketswork/road-fuel-CFI/ (see News Extra page 10).
Then fill it in and send it off in time for the October 18 deadline. That doesn’t give you long to offload the many things you undoubtedly want to express to the OFT. But it’s an opportunity that you may not have again for a very long time. The last OFT inquiry was 14 years ago. This may be a ’lite’ version. But it’s still something, and it may lead to greater things. (It may not but at least you will have tried!). Also, the more of you who respond, the happier you will make Brian Madderson and his posse at the PRA, who have fought long and hard to get the government to understand the way the industry works. And judging by the Watchdog programme on BBC1 last month which by common consent gave a rather misleading portrayal of independent fuel retailers the more information you can provide to explain the role of a petrol retailer, the better. The OFT is seeking information from retailers as part of its assessment of the UK petrol and diesel fuel sector to identify whether or not there are competition problems it can tackle. The assessors therefore need to hear from the people who know, and there are a worrying number of people in high places with very loud voices who think they know. And that is where the suggestions of retailers ’assisting’ in the speed at which fuel prices rise and fall in relation to the global oil price (yes, some of them think there’s one price) come from. So, get cracking!
In the meantime I would just like to congratulate all the winners at our fantastic awards ceremony held last month at the The London Hilton on Park Lane (see page 49). The competition, as always, was hotly contested, particularly in the Midlands and the North. The overall winner was again as always amazing. Well done Jeremy Symonds, Nick Lloyd and a great team.