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Fuel rush at Voe

Scott Preston: delighted with the response to his unusual marketing strategy - Photos: Shetland News

LONG queues of cars were forming outside a country shop in Shetland, on Saturday, after its owners slashed fuel prices to UK mainland levels.

For one day only, Tagon Stores, in the village of Voe, offered unleaded fuel for 129.9p and diesel for 135.9p, around 20p per litre less than usual.

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Scott and Phoebe Preston’s promotion idea was a practical protest against inflated island fuel prices but was also one meant as a big thank you to the local community for the welcome they have received since taking over the shop two months ago.

The initiative proved hugely successful as diesel sold out by 3pm, and unleaded started to run dry later in the day.

By the end of the day they had sold 10,000 litres of fuel and increased the number of customers for a Saturday from around 100 to well above 500.

Mr Preston said he hoped that the increase in trade and the publicity it created would help compensate for the losses of the day.

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Small country petrol stations such as theirs usually don’t earn more than 2p per litre of fuel. On Saturday he made a loss of about 15p per litre.

Prices in Voe were better than in Lancaster, Luton, north London and Norwich.

His wife and business partner added: “The response has been pretty amazing. A couple of people said to us that this was the first time that they ever had filled the whole tank in their car because normally they can’t afford to.

“We had lots of people saying thank you for bringing this issue back to the front again, because more needs to be done about high petrol prices.”

Customers during Saturday’s fuel rush were extremely grateful for the opportunity to save about £10 when filling up.

One lady said: “The prices here today are absolutely fantastic, I wish we could have it every day of the year and then transport in Shetland would be a lot easier for everybody.”

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Another customer said: “I got a few texts saying there is cheap fuel here today in Voe, so I am here to support the folk at the shop; I hope it works out for them.”

Cars queuing outside Tagon Stores on Saturday afternoon.

The Prestons will now take their concern to a meeting of the Shetland Transport Partnership on Monday, where Sam Chambers, the chairman of wholesale company Scottish Fuels, is to address the committee on why fuel prices in the isles are so much higher than in the rest of the country.

Mrs Preston said: “The issue of high fuel prices was partly addressed by the 5p subsidy that was given to all retailers a few weeks ago.

“Unfortunately since then we had price increases for fuel coming in to us; so that subsidy has now disappeared and you can’t tell the difference at the pump.

“What needs to done is that Scottish Fuels, our main provider, needs to look very, very closely at their books and need to work out how they can drop the price, because I can’t believe that it takes 10 pence a litre to ship the petrol across to Shetland.”

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