Murco contract managers have been angered by a move to force them to change their grocery supplier. The problems follow a deal between Murco and internet grocery wholesaler Blueheath to supply its Shopstop and Checkout branded stores (Forecourt Trader, June 2003, p13). The contract managers have complained of late and bungled deliveries, with some products being up to 30 per cent more expensive than their previous suppliers.

“If it was cheaper, more efficient and easier to deal with, we wouldn’t mind being forced to change supplier,” explains one Murco contract manager, who added that it was none of those things.

“When I signed up to Murco I was told there would be no enforced supplier,” he said. “But with core line costs up to 30 per cent dearer they’re bleeding us dry because I can’t pass that sort of cost onto my customers.”

Another contract manager told Forecourt Trader: “My area manager showed me a new contract and told me to sign it. He said Murco reserves the right to tell us who to buy the stock from, but in truth Murco is responsible for the fuel, and the site managers should be responsible for everything else. They said we have to use this company and if we don’t like it, we know what we can do. I’m not the only station that’s not happy – at least 60 per cent of the network are unhappy.”

However, Jim Mulheran, retail development manager of Murco Petroleum, said: “This is contrary to our experience with our operators. Our switch to Blueheath as a supplier is in line with our desire to ensure our customers are presented with a consistent offering throughout our Shopstop and Checkout stores. We believe our alliance with Blueheath goes a long way to achieve this without detrimentally effecting our contract managers.”