11 Aug 2008

Independent petrol station owners struggling

2:54 pm on 11 August 2008

Independent petrol station owners in Auckland have been meeting to try to find a way to avoid going out of business.

The Motor Trade Association says that in the past 12 years more than half of all independently owned petrol stations have closed.

Nationally, there are 700 petrol station owners with independent supply contracts with oil companies.

They say their profit margin of 4.5 cents a litre has not changed in several years, and profits are eroded by the cost of storing petrol, high credit card costs and other soaring costs.

An Auckland BP operator, Kerry Rowe, has begun having crisis meetings with 20 other independent operators, who are in debt because of the cost of having to buy their fuel up front.

Mr Rowe plans to invite all independent operators to put pressure on the oil companies to increase their margins.

Motor Trade Association spokesperson Andy Cumings says oil companies are making record profits at the same time as independent operators are struggling to survive.

Mr Cumings says BP buys its petrol from its parent company, and its reasons for not increasing retailers' margins needs to be more closely examined.