Author Archives david.blevings@ipra.ie

IPRA asks for an update on rates issue from EC competition authority….

21st July 2020
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Dear Iveta

We refer to previous correspondence and many thanks for your continued interest in our dilemma.

While we do understand the unfortunate circumstances which has led to a delay in reviewing and processing this case we would appreciate if you could give us an indication of a time line for a response.

As we have stated in our communications there is a huge disparity in valuations between forecourts and large retail operators following the revaluation by the State in 2017/18.

Our issue is that many of our retail members have been invoiced for their rates based on the new valuation that we contend has been calculated using an unfair and anti-competitive methodology. A large number of our members have appealed the valuation issued but with an appeal taking up to three years to be heard we have genuine concerns that some members will not survive especially with some increases payable of up to 500%.

This is grossly unfair and we should be grateful to learn if there is any way the Commission can ask or force the Valuation Office to defer or hold off on the cases that are under appeal so these business can survive?

Your early response would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely

Michael Griffin

Michael Griffin CEO

Irish Petrol Retailers Association

E: office@ipra.ie

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IPRA asks Varadkar to include retail forecourts in support package….

9th July 2020
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Dear Tánaiste

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) is the trade association for independent petrol retailers in Ireland. The sector employs over 100,000 people and if you include family this represents over 250,000 people dependent on the industry. Many of our members are smaller retail sites, often the bedrock and only retail facility in some rural villages.

Firstly, we want to congratulate you on your appointment as Tánaiste and wish you well in that position.

Secondly, as you prepare your support package to help businesses navigate their way out of the pandemic, please be aware of the issues surrounding the revaluation of retail forecourts and the huge disparity in valuations between forecourts and large retail operators. I have attached our white paper clearly outlines the issue and demonstrates that retail sites are penalised for having fuel pumps outside their retail business. The independent service station operator has not been treated fairly and we would really appreciate your assistance in seeking a resolution to the current impasse.

Despite being open as an essential service during the pandemic, our members are reporting a reduction in fuel sales of up to 70%. The smaller independent retailer will not survive if Government does not tackle this inequality as a matter of urgency as our members’ are being asked for these revised rate payments now and are not in a position to pay them post Covid-19.

As well as including retail forecourts in any support plan (a rate exemption for one year would be our suggestion) can your office request from senior civil servants in the valuation office an explanation for their rationale in reducing the rateable valuation for most businesses in the country when these businesses were not even requesting reductions and then to clearly target 4 or 5 specific business sectors and impose extraordinary excessive increases of 300-400% on these sectors to try and make up the shortfall?

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IPRA seeks urgent meeting with Minister O’Brien on rates issue….

2nd July 2020
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Dear Minister O’Brien

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) is the trade association for independent petrol retailers in Ireland. The sector employs over 100,000 people and if you include family this represents over 250,000 people dependent on the industry. Many of our members are smaller retail sites, often the bedrock and only retail facility in some rural villages.

Firstly, we want to congratulate you on your elevation to Minister for Housing and wish you well in that position.

Secondly, you are well aware of the issue surrounding the revaluation of retail forecourts and the huge disparity in valuations between forecourt and large retail operators. Basically, retail sites are penalised for having fuel pumps outside their retail offering. At our last meeting you indicated an understanding of our position and if I read the meeting correctly, you supported the retailers’ position.

When I read again your home page on the web it says, “Right at the centre of our life’s work is respect for all, sharing and spreading the wealth we create to all those who deserve it by right, treating people fairly, and giving maximum equal access to all who need services and due care, promoting the talent and potential of all for our greater good”.

The independent service station operator has not been treated fairly and we would really appreciate your assistance in seeking a resolution to the current impasse. The smaller independent retailer will not survive if Government does not tackle this inequality as a matter of urgency as our members’ are being asked for these revised rate payments now and are not in a position to pay them post Covid-19.

We should be grateful if you could meet a deputation of retailers virtually to discuss this matter urgently and seek a resolution that is fair for all parties.

Yours faithfully

Michael Griffin

Michael Griffin CEO

Irish Petrol Retailers Association

E: office@ipra.ie

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Petrol retailers call on Government for support after Covid-19 has diminished their fuel sales by c.70%

24th June 2020
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As Ireland moves to Phase 3 of the easing the COVID-19 restrictions on 29 June the Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) has called on the Government to support forecourt traders as the sector has been badly affected with severely reduced turnover and profit despite many being open as essential services during the pandemic.

 

David Blevings, spokesperson for the IPRA explained, “The majority of our members are small family owned businesses, essentially SME’s and they have seen their fuel sales drop by c.70% during the pandemic. Despite being open as essential retailers the business has not been there as the majority of vehicles were taken off the road and profitability has suffered as a consequence.

To compound their problems, retailers are still being levied with rates bills based on the 2017 revaluation even though many have appealed these valuations as grossly unfair. Minister Humphries supported the sector’s call to establish a rates forum to review the methodology of the 2017 revaluation but to date, no action has been taken by Government.

If we don’t see a soft loan scheme for fuel retailers and a six months write off for commercial rates we will see the closure of some rural fuel sites which would be a disaster for isolated rural communities as the filling station is the mainstay of the local village”, added David.

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Issues for forecourt retailers

16th June 2020
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Now that the much awaited Irish Programme for Government (PFG) document has been agreed it is more important than ever that we can put your views to elected Members and push the retailer agenda.

Please review the document and feedback your experiences on these topics. On the back of that information we can engage with the suppliers and government officials and make real change.

Send your information to office@ipra.ie or pick up the phone to Michael on 087 254 6512.

We really do need your views on these important issues and many thanks in advance.

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Irish forecourt prices at four year low is good news for consumers says IPRA

21st April 2020
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According to data released by the AA today, customers are paying substantially less for their road fuels at a level last seen in 2016. The AA’s most recent monthly study of fuel prices found that, on average, a litre of petrol now costs 126.5c, representing a reduction of over 15c compared to February’s average cost of 141.9c.

David Blevings, spokesperson for the Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) said, ““Oil prices are falling sharply on the back of decreasing demand and increasing stocks. With most countries introducing isolation tactics and closing non-essential businesses we are starting to see signs of distress in the oil market with oil stocks surging and demand falling sharply.

News media widely reported that oil prices were trading negatively and this referred to West Texas Crude futures due to expire today and the price reached an unprecedented minus $37.63 a barrel. Sellers were paying buyers to take oil because of an over supplied market as companies have run out of room to store it. In Europe prices are benchmarked on Brent Crude which is still trading at c. $20/barrel.

Some investment banks are speculating that oil could fall further in the short term due to the oversupply and if this does happen, we could see further reductions at the pump”, added David.

Looking to the longer term, most pundits are predicting that Crude will settle at $35-45/barrel following the recent agreement to reduce supply but with no sign of detailed plans to restart the world economy this number could be still some way off.

Some investment banks are speculating that oil could fall further in the short term due to the oversupply and if this does happen, we could see further reductions at the pump”, added David.

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Will Ireland follow UK lead and adopt E10 for unleaded fuel?

15th April 2020
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The UK government announced plans to make E10 petrol – which contains up to 10 per cent ethanol – the standard grade of unleaded in 2021. The Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation in March 2020 into making E10 the new standard, and wants E5 (the current standard, with up to five per cent ethanol) to be available only as super-unleaded.

James Cogan, Industry & Policy Advisor for Ethanol Europe has an obvious interest in this move and has indicated that it is only a matter of time before Ireland follows. James said, “E10 was approved in the USA for all cars 40 years ago and has been the only standard on offer there for nearly 20 years, while a dozen EU countries now have E10 as the market leading blend”.

IPRA is asking Members for their views on the introduction of E10. To help you, please review the helpful guide from James HERE.

IPRA office will send a separate mailchimp note asking for your views.

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Petrol retailers stay open as essential service but call for rate relief as business drops by 70%

31st March 2020
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The trade body representing the forecourt sector, the Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) has today written to Ministers John Paul Phelan and Eoghan Murphy asking for forecourts to be included in any Council plan for rate relief.

 

David Blevings, spokesperson for the IPRA said, “Retail sites have been designated an essential service in the recent list of essential service providers published by Government. While our members are happy to serve the emergency services, HGV drivers, defence forces, and essential county council workers their turnover has reduced by c.70%. This is due to the obvious reduction in traffic volumes as people stay at home and consumers’ switch to buying only essential items.

 

Local forecourts will be the only shop in many Irish villages open for many customers and while our Members are pleased to remain open, they cannot be expected to pay rates at a time when their income has been drastically reduced. Of the 1,000 retail forecourt locations in the Republic, eighty percent are owned and operated by sole traders and family businesses.

 

Without rate relief at this critical time, many of these businesses will not survive and this will lead to closures. Any closures during this crisis will reduce fuel supply availability to front line workers and services and cripple rural Ireland. We have asked the Ministers to swiftly introduce a local authority rates relief package and to ensure the Irish forecourt sector is included in any plan to protect jobs and family businesses in rural Ireland”, added David.

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