"Business as usual". After rejecting on Wednesday, like its main competitors, the proposal of Elisabeth Borne to sell the fuel at a loss, Système U confirmed the launch of a new sale operation at cost price in early October. On X (formerly Twitter), the boss of the distributor Dominique Schelcher said Wednesday afternoon to have "heard the call" of the prime minister and the government "to find solutions to the soaring fuel prices". But there is no question of selling at a loss.
Système U "will play its role, as since the beginning of this inflationary crisis, by launching from the 1st weekend of October, the 6th and 7th, a sale operation at cost price," he said. Not really a surprise, given that Système U was one of the brands to have announced preparing operations at cost price last week, following the call launched by the Minister of Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher.
The cooperative group had at the time followed in the footsteps of Casino and Intermarché. At the former, operations at cost price are planned every weekend, Friday included, from September 1 to October 22. For Intermarché, it will be September 29 and 30, October 27 and 28, November 24 and 25 and December 15 and 16.
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The no of mass distribution to selling at a loss
However, Système U is the only distributor that has not completely ruled out the use of selling below cost at its service stations. "For economic reasons, it will not be possible for companies, SMEs of System U, to massively make sales operations at a loss of fuel," said Wednesday morning Dominique Schelcher, during a round table organized by the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly. He also said he had never called for "questioning the threshold of resale at a loss", contrary to what he seemed to have implied on France Inter last week.
Sitting next to him, his main retail counterparts took fewer gloves. "We will not sell at a loss, because we can not sell at a loss," said Alexandre Bompard, the CEO of Carrefour, calling for "not to open this Pandora's box". "We are not going to use this possibility, because otherwise we would have to increase the price of pasta. We are not crazy, "justified Thierry Cotillard, the boss of the group Les Mousquetaires (Intermarché). Philippe Michaud, co-president of Leclerc, said that "our companies are not manufactured to sell at a loss".
During the same round table, Alexandre Bompard also insisted on the fact that Carrefour would continue to "make operations at cost price". A technique, intended to win or retain customers, frequently used in all supermarket chains, even more so since the surge in inflation last year. And which are expected to multiply further thanks to the surge in oil prices. Without the real impact on prices at the pump being really significant. As part of these operations, the rates paid by motorists fall by only a few cents per litre. Hence Élisabeth Borne's proposal for selling at a loss, intended to go further in lowering rates. Faced with the refusal of distributors, however, this project seems to be already stillborn.