Risk of petrol price hike, warn MP and Fair Fuel UK

Asda Petrol fuel

Fuel campaigners have warned consumers will be “hammered at the pumps” if the proposed merger between Asda and Sainsbury’s goes ahead.

In a joint letter to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), MP for Harlow Robert Halfon and Fair Fuel UK called for an independent fuel price watchdog, to counter the threat to motorists.

The letter warned pump prices at Asda and Sainsbury’s outlets differed by as much as 5p per litre within 30 miles and that they could look to switch to the higher pricing level post-merger, which could spark a similar reaction by other retailers.

A combined Asda and Sainsbury’s would hold the largest market share of petrol retailing in the UK, at nearly 18%, according to market researcher Statista.

The CMA is preparing for an investigation into the proposed merger.

“Until now, the big four supermarkets’ bulk fuel-buying power has kept the big oil company forecourts from hiking prices too much,” Halfon said in the letter. “They have created some competition amongst all fuel retailers, and consumers benefit as a result. But the supply chain continues to go unchecked so any reduction in fuel supply competition at the pumps is bad news.”

A survey of nearly 50,000 responses by the campaign group found more than 46% of respondents agreed supermarkets which sell vehicle fuel already operate a pricing cartel at the pumps.

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