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    Asda questioned by watchdog over fuel pricing

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    Asda boss has been summoned to appear before MPs again over “discrepancies” in its fuel pricing strategy and “unclear” fire-and-rehire policy.

    The Commons’ business and trade committee has written to Mohsin Issa  raising concerns over comments made by the supermarket chain’s chief commercial officer at an evidence session held a few days ago on fuel and food prices inflation.

    Darren Jones, the committee’s chairman, said there were “apparent discrepancies” between Kris Comerford’s evidence on fuel pricing and a competition watchdog market study published this week. The Competition and Markets Authority found that drivers had been forced to pay an extra 6p a litre for fuel at supermarkets last year as stores increased their profit margins, totaling an extra £900 million, The Times reported.

    The report said Asda, which had been the cheapest retailer, and Morrisons had led the charge in raising margins. The watchdog also fined Asda £60,000 for failing to provide relevant information to the inquiry in a timely manner.

    Comerford was also asked whether Asda uses fire-and-rehire tactics to which he responded that these were “not something that Asda employs. However, the committee argued that letters from Asda and the GMB union published this week made the accuracy of this statement unclear.

    The Times revealed in May that Asda had been using the fire-rehire tactics to reduce pay for 7,000 employees before its merger with EG Group, the Issa brothers’ petrol station business.

    Mohsin Issa said a “consultation on legacy payments in a small number of stores in the southeast” was continuing the objective remained to reach a “compensatory payment” for those affected. “This remains a live consultation and we would not comment further in order to not prejudice its outcome,” he said.

    “On fuel, we remain resolute that our strategy is to offer the best value for customers at the pumps — something that the CMA’s fuel market study confirms we continue to be.”

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