from Kevin Hunt, managing director, Lawrence Hunt & Co Sir; The mobile phone companies are using their enormous power to manipulate margins down on top-up cards. We sell over #50,000 in top-ups each week, an enormous amount for a company such as ours, but a drop in the ocean for the phone companies. Very importantly, stores like ours provided the mobile companies with a fast and cheap way of getting prepay mobiles to the marketplace. This was rewarded with margins of around 15% back then. To see this margin eroded to below 5% has been extremely frustrating over the last few years. I feel retailers simply have no way of fighting this. Everybody sells top ups! If I make a stand and delist Vodafone, the consumer will simply buy from next door. Manufacturers know we need products and services to drive footfall in our stores, and they must not be allowed to dictate unacceptable margins on the back of this. This is being demonstrated by Imperial Tobacco, which has gained a large market share with Richmond cigarettes. The only stock available to me is pre-priced at below rsp, which restricts my margin to below 5%. Again, this manufacturer is guilty of driving its market share up by using a low retail price at the expense of retailers' margins. My hands are tied due to the manufacturer knowing I have no alternative than to stock the brand due to its large market share. Imperial claims its research shows consumers will buy something else from the store in addition to the cigarettes, therefore I am making margin on those items in addition to the cigarettes! Are we then to accept this and make poor margin on more and more lines hoping the customer will buy a bottle of Coke or a packet of Walkers crisps so I can make an acceptable overall margin? I hope not! {{COMMENT & LETTERS }}