The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has fined supermarket chain Asda for failing to provide relevant information for its fuel pricing probe.
The supermarket received two fines of £30,000 ($38,062.5) each for failing to comply with the requirements imposed on it by the notice issued to Asda under section 174(3) of the Act on 10 May 2023 (‘May Notice’).
The May Notice was issued to Asda in relation to CMA’s market study on the supply of road fuel in the UK. It required Asda to attend the CMA’s offices in person to give evidence on the topics identified for the purpose of its road fuel market study.
Asda had no reasonable excuse for its failure to comply with the requirements.
According to CMA, Asda and Morrisons made the decision to target higher margins on fuel sales in 2022, which contributed to drivers paying an extra 6p per litre for fuel during the year.
The fuel margin target for Asda in 2023 tripled compared to 2019 while Morrisons had doubled its target margin over the same period.
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Meanwhile, other UK retailers, including Sainsbury’s and Tesco, did not respond as expected in a competitive market but raised their prices in line with these changes.
CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell said: “Drivers buying fuel at supermarkets in 2022 have paid around 6 pence per litre more than they would have done otherwise due to the four major supermarkets increasing their margins. This will have had a greater impact on vulnerable people, particularly those in areas with less choice of fuel stations.
“We need to reignite competition among fuel retailers and that means two things. It needs to be easier for drivers to compare up-to-date prices, so retailers have to compete harder for their business.
“This is why we are recommending the UK government legislate for a new fuel finder scheme which would make it compulsory for retailers to make their prices available in real time. This would end the need to drive round and look at the prices displayed on the forecourt and would ideally enable live price data on satnavs and map apps.”
Last month, the CMA ordered supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Asda to stop blocking rivals from opening stores nearby.