Two leading French retailers were at odds over the government's call for petrol and diesel to be sold at cost price at the fuel pump, ahead of a meeting between the government and distributors.
To help people cope with inflation, the French government initially considered lifting a ban on fuel being sold at a loss, but revised its plan in the face of opposition from distributors.
Its revised call for fuel to be sold at cost is the subject of talks later on Tuesday (26 September).
French prime minister Elisabeth Borne said at the National Assembly earlier that the meeting would be about sending a "simple message" to lower prices and make margins transparent.
'It Cannot Be Permanent'
Selling fuel at cost price can only be temporary, said Dominique Schelcher, head of Système U. Système U 's next at-cost fuel price promotion would be the first weekend of October, he said.
“It cannot be permanent,” he told BFM Television.
Michel-Edouard Leclerc, president of the eponymous supermarket chain, said in a tweet that fuel at all 750 of its stores would be sold at cost from 29 September through the week.
A partir du 29 septembre, les 750 stations-service des hypermarchés @Leclerc vendront quotidiennement l'essence "à prix coûtant". Ca veut clairement dire sans profit et tous les jours, pas seulement les week-ends comme lors de nos opérations précédentes. pic.twitter.com/nwTZYRyp1N
— Michel-Edouard Leclerc (@Leclerc_MEL) September 26, 2023
He said his group was making a "positive response to the president's call."
He added the price would have to take into account supply conditions and decisions by oil companies.
Elsewhere, French consumers are buying fewer personal hygiene and household products as the prices of products made by big brands like P&G and Unilever surge, data compiled for Reuters showed.