Britain: Esso Goes to War

Most of the sound and fury in Britain's volatile gasoline war has come from the brash discounters who started it all in the early 1960s. By selling cut-rate gas under such names as Globe, Jet and V.I.P., the independents came out of nowhere to take over a heady 10% share of the country's $2 billion (including taxes) annual sales. For the most part, the major distributors have been loath to join the fray—until now. Alarmed at the shrinking size of its own tiger in the nation's tanks, giant British Esso, a subsidiary of Jersey Standard, moved to turn the market...

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