Supermarket bosses are set for showdown talks with the government next week over soaring prices at the pumps.
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps will meet with chiefs from Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco, with the minister vowing to slam “the brakes down on the mistreatment of motorists.”
In a column in The Sun, Shapps said he would call on the supermarket CEO’s, as well as oil giants BP, Shell and Esso, to “explain themselves.”
It follows the damming conclusions of an investigation from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) earlier in July, which found that increased supermarket profit margins led to drivers paying almost £1bn more for fuel last year.
Shapps said “I want to now hear how they are going to fix this. I will be telling them to do the right thing and immediately end any attempt to overcharge at the pumps.”
The CMA’s findings, following a year-long investigation, concluded that average supermarket fuel margins rose by 6p per litre between 2019 and 2022 amid weakening competition.
The watchdog recommended a host of changes as a result of the review, including the implementation of a new fuel monitoring body to “hold industry to account” and legislation to make fuel retailers provide up to date data on pricing.
Shapps said he would “demand that these companies” sign up to the scheme this summer “to hand over pricing information, so that fuel comparison apps and websites can help consumers compare local fuel rates more effectively.”
The minister went further, promising to implement legislative change to enforce transparent pricing information on fuel pump costs. “But we will not be stopping there… We will change the law so companies have to provide this price information whether they want to or not.”
The retailer faces a grilling next Wednesday, with co-owner Mohsin Issa appearing before the Business and Trade Committee after MPs raised concerns over “discrepancies between statements” given in previous parliamentary evidence sessions and the CMA’s findings.
Supermarkets had fallen back on the defence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the sky-high charges, but criticism from long-term critics the AA and RAC ramped up when wholesale costs dipped.
The motoring groups hailed the regulator’s findings after years of consumer campaigning, with the AA stating it had noted the pump price practices “as far back as 2005,” and that, following the pandemic, it had been “blindingly obvious.”
Asda were approached for comment.