Don’t look back they say. Those who do are often accused of viewing the good ol’ days through rose-tinted specs. But as Chris Cundall points out, he was operating on better profits 10 years ago.
He runs two petrol stations with Londis stores in West Yorkshire. He’s been a Texaco dealer for four years and in March was reduced to a margin of 1.9p a litre.
“On my volumes, taking a penny off diesel and unleaded has cost me £1,000 a week,” he explains.
He has no real beef with Texaco – he gets 28 days’ credit and, having looked around, believes only Conoco can match the terms. In fact, his contract is up next June and he has already asked for a meeting so he can prepare properly for it.
But to make up the deficit he did what he had to do – put up his cigarette and confectionery prices. He had previously sold both categories at their rrps. He put 4p on confectionery and 17p on a pack of cigarettes and says it hasn’t subdued sales. Before he did this, he looked at the local competition – Esso had put 22p on cigs while a four-finger KitKat was 35p.
I’m not sure how many people, outside of strapped-for-cash teenagers and those on benefit, actually know the price of anything anymore. Okay, a few people will know a few of the prices, but give them a little list – as newspaper ‘vox pop’ articles often do – and you’ll be surprised at what a price-ticket insensitive bunch they are. Especially when they pay for it on plastic.
But to get back to original point, Chris wins the quote of the month slot: “Can you imagine if a Martian landed here,” he says, “and I said ‘I’ve got a product that everybody needs but I can’t make any money out of it’. What do you think he’d say?”
Martian replies (printable please) on a postcard.