Virginia Below-Cost Debate Rekindled

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Virginia Below-Cost Debate Rekindled

RICHMOND, Va. -- In an open letter to NACS Chairman Hank Armour and President Kerley LeBoeuf, the Virginia Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (VPMCSA) yesterday alleged below-cost sales are ruining small operators and asked the brass at the National Association of Convenience Stores to visit Virginia to view the effects for themselves.

"Given that NACS position opposing below-cost selling where the intent is to destroy competition is so unequivocal, this is a chance for these two industry leaders to judge for themselves," said VPMCSA President Michael J. O'Connor. "NACS members in Virginia await a response."

Lindsay Hutter, senior vice president of communications and public relations at the Alexandria, Va.-based association, told CSNews Online that NACS had received the letter and is reviewing it.

Armour is out of the country and unavailable for comment, she said.

In his letter, O'Connor said VPMCSA members in Rocky Mount, Va. reported that unspecified companies in the market are selling fuel below cost "with the intent to destroy competition, may be occurring in that community."

Virginia's effort to pass below-cost legislation died earlier this year. In March, NACS decided not endorse federal below-cost sales legislation on fuel.

"Given that NACS policy is so unequivocal on this issue and in light of the reports that I have received from this area, I wanted to alert you of this situation and request a meeting in Rocky Mount with both of you and other concerned members of the National Association of Convenience Stores," said O'Connor, who during the state legislative battle challenged Sheetz Inc. President Stan Sheetz to a debate. Sheetz opposes any below-cost sales law.

"The purpose of this meeting," O'Connor wrote in his letter to NACS, "will be to determine for yourselves if below-cost selling with the intent to destroy competition is occurring in this small community."