RMI Petrol has promised to gather further evidence of current practices which are distorting competition in the fuel retailing sector to help change the Office of Fair Trading’s opinion about the need for an inquiry.
The OFT recently decided against a market study into road fuel retailing, but left the door open in the event of further persuasive evidence.
In his letter to the Competition branch of the OFT, RMIP chairman Brian Madderson said his members were particularly disappointed at the OFT’s decision not to pursue a market study, as they considered there were pressing and material competition and consumer welfare issues at stake which did require futher investigation.
“In particular, while certain practices of hypermarkets and oil companies may, on the face of it, deliver some short-term consumer benefits, the foreclosure effect on many smaller, independent fuel retailing operations is harming competition and undermining consumer welfare in the medium to longer term," said Maddderson.
“As retail networks shrink and supply becomes increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few powerful operators, not only will this result in less convenience and mobility for consumers and businesses across the UK (with those in remote communities being particularly vulnerable), it will also lead to less choice and higher prices in the longer term…”.
Madderson promised over the next few months “to gather further evidence of current practices and contract terms which in our view are distorting competition and will submit our findings to you for consideration”.