asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) how many retail outlets for petrol went out of business in 1977; how many are receiving special subsidy from the oil companies; and if he is satisfied that the total number adequately serves the public need;(2) what is the average profit per gallon of turnover in those retail petrol outlets which do not receive special assistance from the oil companies, and in those which do.
According to a recent survey published in Petroleum Review for March 1978, 1,010 sites stopped selling petrol during 1977. This leaves the total number of petrol sites at 29,373 at the end of 1977.In areas of high competition many oil companies have introduced price support schemes to allow retail outlets to match competitive prices. The levels of rebate or site support of other kinds are commercially confidential matters between the retailers and their suppliers.
There is no information available on average profit per gallon of turnover analysed between those outlets who do not receive special assistance from the oil companies and those who do. However, a survey by the Price Commission in 1975 showed that the average gross margin for all forecourt sales amounted to 6·1 pence/gallon.
I understand that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission is currently examining and will shortly be reporting on aspects of the wholesale supply of petrol including any discrimination between retailers in relation to the price at which, or the terms on which, petrol is offered or supplied to them.