VACC is the peak automotive industry body in Victoria. Among its 5,000 members are owners of independent service stations and convenience stores. VACC has called the latest marketing campaign by supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths and their fuel partners, to heavily discount fuel, as a ‘significant blow’ for small business.

VACC is calling for Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman, Rod Sims, to intervene.

VACC, on behalf of independent service stations and convenience stores, has questioned the current discounting campaigns by supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths, and their fuel partners. VACC is concerned the heavy discounting of fuel will have a detrimental effect on the independent service station owners and cause long term problems for motorists.

“This latest discounted fuel campaign is a significant blow to independent service station owners and, in the long run, motorists will be the ones who suffer,” VACC Executive Director, David Purchase, said.

“Independent service station owners survive by the skin of their teeth at the best of times. However, when the supermarket chains, and their partners, heavily discount fuel, as they are now, independent service station owners have no chance of competing with them. They just have to accept there will be a loss of customers during this period. For some, this loss may force the business to close,” Mr Purchase said.

Once there were thousands of independent service stations in Victoria; today, there are less than 250. VACC continues to lobby Government to support and promote independent service stations, to ensure competition in the service station sector.

“Without competition, the supermarkets, not market forces, can drive fuel prices and this is what we are seeing right now. We question if the current discount war is a marketing ploy and if it has anything to do with world oil prices or the Australian dollar. ACCC has a duty to monitor predatory pricing and abuse of market power and we call on new Chairman, Rod Sims, to intervene, in its own words, to promote ‘competition and fair trade in the market place to benefit consumers, businesses and the community,’” Mr Purchase said.