Francis Pousse is the national president of service stations and new energies within the professional union Mobilians. Its organization represents 5,800 stations, excluding supermarkets. He reacts, for Le Figaro, to the announcement of the Prime Minister, who indicated on Saturday evening that the various distributors will soon be able to sell fuel at a loss.
LE FIGARO. - How do you react after Elisabeth Borne's announcement?
Francis PUSSE. - In any case, we cannot afford to offer to sell fuel at a loss, even if we had the right to do so. Only large and medium-sized stores can do this... So it’s a completely unfair measure!
We are in a completely unprecedented situation. We are deregulating something that was put in place in 1963. Without that, the market is no longer fair, and that is what will happen. The networks that I represent, excluding TotalEnergies, will absolutely not be able to match these prices. In France, Esso and BP have been bought by large distributors, and, like Avia, they all buy their fuel at market prices. However, international markets are not going to sell at a loss!
What effects could this “unfair” measure have on distributor networks?
Lowering prices here is impossible. Our stations make a net margin of one to two cents, and, upstream, the distributors make pennies before selling us the fuel. We won't be able to align.
I can take as an example the discount granted by TotalEnergies, alongside that offered by the State, a few months ago. This caused a drop in sales volume, depending on the points of sale, of 30 to 40%...
How will you react? Do you plan to challenge this measure?
We will find out. I was notified a few hours before, and Bruno Le Maire called me in the evening. I have to see the minister at the beginning of next week to discuss it. But we won't be able to hold on without help from the State, otherwise we're dead, that's for sure. And particularly on the side of stations in rural areas, which we want to save, and for which Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said that they were going to study the establishment of an energy transition fund, to support them in the installation of electrical terminals and the diversification of their activity. I'm going to tell her that she can keep her money if we don't get compensation, because in that case we will all be dead. My urgency today is to save the networks, to protect the operators’ cash flow.