Asda owner to be grilled over petrol pricing

Asda owner slammed over petrol prices amid claims it is using cost-of-living crisis to boost profit margins

The media-shy billionaire who owns Asda will be dragged before MPs amid a growing spat over petrol fuel prices.

The Commons Business and Trade Committee has written to Mohsin Issa about “apparent discrepancies” between the evidence provided by Kris Comerford, the supermarket’s chief commercial officer, on prices last week and a study by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released Monday. has been published.

On June 27, Comerford claimed that Asda’s fuel pricing strategy had “not changed for years”.

But on Monday, the CMA found that supermarkets, known for traditionally lower fuel prices, had tried to boost profits by increasing their margins by an average of 6 pence per liter between 2019 and 2022.

Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have overcharged drivers by £900m in 2022, the CMA said, singled out Asda as its profit-per-litre target for 2023 was three times higher than in 2019.

Price erosion: The Competition and Markets Authority found that supermarkets, including Asda, had attempted to increase profits from fuel sales between 2019 and 2022.

It was also fined £60,000 for not providing pricing data to the regulator quickly enough.

Cross-party committee chair Darren Jones said Comerford’s comment “doesn’t tally” with the findings and asked Issa to appear on July 19.

He said MPs were also concerned about Asda’s response to the lay-and-re-hire tactic, which involves firing an employee and then offering a new, potentially less favorable contract.

While Comerford said at the meeting that this is ‘not something Asda employs’, letters from Asda and the GMB union suggest this could be inaccurate.

The GMB said Asda had threatened in its own letter to resign and re-hire – which the company characterized as ‘fire and re-hire’ – as a ‘last resort’.

It said, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s normally a duck.” It is very unfair of Asda to implement pay cuts during a cost of living crisis, and even more so to resign and re-hire to achieve this.”

The supermarket was acquired by billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who also own petrol pump empire EG Group, for £6.8 billion.

Mohsin Issa said: “We have engaged fully and openly with the business and trade select committee on food and fuel price inflation.

“We are disappointed to hear that it feels there are discrepancies in our evidence and have provided them with a detailed reply to their letter requesting a further interview.

“On the fuel side, we remain determined that our strategy is to provide the best value to customers at the pump – something that the CMA’s fuel market study confirms we continue to do.

“While we cannot answer questions about how the market as a whole works, I am happy to use the time previously agreed for me to meet with Jones directly for an open discussion, where I will be happy to confirm our strategy and commitments. ‘