The announcement could have serious long-term consequences. While the executive announced this weekend the possibility for fuel distributors to sell “at a loss”, anger had been building for several hours among independent pump attendants, who feared seeing their income fall. Especially since mass distribution can afford it, thanks to the compensation from its other activities. To appease this social discontent, the professional union Mobilians, representing 5,800 service stations, announced Monday that Bercy had committed following an emergency meeting to introduce “compensation measures” for service stations. independent, after having authorized sales “at a loss” from December. The ministers concerned at Bercy have committed to putting in place a “support plan for traditional service stations”, again according to the union which welcomes their “listening”. In two and a half months, professionals will then have six months to sell their fuel at a loss or at the best price. In recent hours, there was still incomprehension.
“It’s an announcement that shocks us,” says Yanis Fialoux, who manages five independent service stations in Drôme, “it’s the death of small stations.” For this professional, it is impossible to sell at a loss because he does not record “big margins”. “I get five cents gross per liter, not including transport and station costs,” he explains. If his clients desert his establishment, Yanis Fialoux will be forced to cease his activity, as he cannot compensate with other services. “We are giving a monopoly to the big makers,” laments the gas station attendant.
An observation shared by Frédéric Blosse, mechanic-pump attendant in Meurthe-et-Moselle: “The service station represents 40% of my turnover, I cannot lose money on it.” “I work twelve hours a day, six and a half days a week, if it’s not to earn anything, there’s no point in getting up,” regrets the professional. If today it is 10 to 15 cents more expensive than the supermarkets, located fifteen kilometers away, he now hopes that the difference will not climb beyond 20 cents per liter. “There, I will lose volume and customers,” predicts Frédéric Blosse.
Also read: Selling fuel at a loss: how much price reduction can we really expect?
For Francis Pousse, national president of service stations and new energies of the Mobilians union, these independent stations “are not capable of playing in the big leagues”. “They cannot already do the cost price, and therefore even less sell at a loss,” he emphasizes. Note that of the 5,800 French service stations, 3,400 are affiliated with TotalEnergies and 2,400 with other groups, much more modest in size, such as Avia or Dyneff. “We must distinguish between stations which belong to brands which control them, and those which have franchise and supply contracts”, underlines Olivier Gantois, president of Ufip Énergies et Mobilités.
For the latter, generally rural, the weight of “selling at a loss” is therefore even greater, because these stations obtain their supplies from refiners and therefore have additional costs. “In the absence of a proposal from the government, we will absolutely have to compensate these 2,400 service stations,” argues Francis Pousse. The expert explains that these establishments live above all on the diversification of services, with laundry or shops. But “without customers at the pump, there won’t be any in these services either, which will cause turnover to drop,” he explains.
It is for this reason in particular that Francis Pousse will address these questions of compensation and partial unemployment with Bruno Le Maire, during discussions planned for this Monday evening. “I hope that we will also be able to discuss the transition fund for service stations, which aims to diversify them with the installation of electrical terminals,” mentions the professional. “But this decision to sell at a loss calls everything into question. If we do not deal with this emergency situation with aid, this transition fund will be of no use because a large part of the service stations will have gone out of business,” he adds.
Frédéric Plan, general director of the French Fuels Federation