Australian grocery wholesaler Metcash Trading has said that it is considering a discount fuel offer to attract customers.

Metcash chief executive Andrew Reitzer said the company has held talks with “a number of major oil companies” about the offer through its Independent Grocers of Australia, or IGA, stores, reported Dow Jones International News.

“Discussions are still at an early stage but the volume opportunities provided by the 1,100 strong IGA members are seen as attractive by the petrol companies,” Reitzer said.

Metcash is hoping to follow the success of Australian supermarket operator Woolworths, whose petrol sales leapt 66% to A$834m (US$500m) for the first half of fiscal 2002/03. Woolworths has offered a discount of up to four cents a litre for customers.

Rival retailer Coles Myer is also believed to be in talks with fuel companies regarding the introduction of a fuel discount scheme and the possible acquisition of petrol stations.

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Metcash, however, said any arrangements with fuel companies would not involve the purchase of petrol stations by Metcash, but rather a fuel discount arrangement for IGA customers.