Francis Pousse is the national president of the service station and new energies within the professional union Mobilians. Its organization represents 5800 stations, excluding supermarkets. He reacts, for Le Figaro, to the announcement of the Prime Minister, who indicated Saturday night that distributors will soon be able to sell fuel at a loss.
LE FIGARO. - After the announcement of Elisabeth Borne, the government specified that the possibility of selling at a loss would only concern "large and medium-sized surfaces". Your members are therefore not concerned. What do you think?
Francis POUSSE. - It's even worse! In any case, we do not have the means to offer it, but even if we wanted to, only large and medium-sized supermarkets could do so... This is a downright unfair measure!
We are in a completely new 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 I represent, excluding TotalEnergies, will absolutely not be able to match these prices. In France, Esso and BP were 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 one to two cents net margin, and, upstream, the distributors make penny of cents before selling us the fuel. We will not be able to align.
I can take as an example the discount granted by TotalEnergies, in parallel with that offered by the State, a few months ago. This has caused a drop in sales volume, depending on the point of sale, of 30 to 40%...
How will you react? Do you intend to challenge this measure?
We will make inquiries. I was warned a few hours before, and Bruno Le Maire called me in the evening. I have to see the minister early next week to discuss this. But we will not be able to hold on without state aid, otherwise, we are dead, that's for sure. And especially on the side of stations in rural areas, which we want to save, and for which Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said they would study the establishment of an energy transition fund, to support them in the installation of electrical terminals and the diversification of their activity. I will tell her that she can keep her money if we do not get compensation, because then we will all be dead. My urgency today is to save the networks, to protect the cash flow of operators.