FT - Ascona Group grand re-opening of Green Garage Service Station RrN4uK3Q

Source: Ascona Group

It comes after business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng asked the CMA to conduct an ‘urgent review’ of the retail fuel market

The boss of forecourt retailer Ascona Group has called for a further 20p per litre reduction in fuel duty, as the nation heads towards a £2 per litre bill for diesel by the end of the week.

Writing a blog yesterday, Ascona Group CEO Darren Briggs said “unprecedented increases” in pump prices were stopping independent forecourt retailers from remaining competitive with the mults.

“The majority of big supermarkets buy their petrol and diesel on a three-weekly lag, which means the petrol and diesel they are retailing today has been bought at a cost price generated over three weeks ago,” Briggs said.

“In a fast-rising market, supermarkets have a huge competitive advantage over the independent fuel retailer, where around 75% buy their petrol and diesel on a previous week lag – not three weeks.”

It comes after business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct an “urgent review” of the retail fuel market, amid concerns retailers are not passing on the 5p per litre cut in fuel duty.

In a letter to the competition watchdog, sent over the weekend, Kwarteng wrote that the British public was “rightly frustrated” that the fuel duty reduction had “not always appeared” to be passed through to forecourt prices.

He asked the CMA to investigate the health of competition in the market and whether it has “adversely affected consumer interests”.

Briggs added: “I do worry sometimes about the lack of intelligence within our government, which makes sweeping statements without actually consulting the industry to understand the mechanics and economics of downstream fuel supply agreements.

“I have personally offered to meet Kwasi Kwarteng to help him understand the nature of the fuel markets, and the challenges businesses like Ascona face in such a volatile market. Perhaps it is convenient for the government to have a scapegoat.

“The 5p per litre reduction in fuel duty was a drop in the ocean. Germany reduced their fuel duty by 25p per litre and Netherlands and Spain by 17p per litre. We need a further temporary reduction of 20p per litre.”