The new owners of a country shop are waging a David and Goliath battle against Shetland’s monopoly fuel supplier.
Tagon Shop proprietors Scott and Phoebe Preston are selling petrol at almost cost price to make sure families and businesses are not penalised following the recent panic buying on the mainland. Petrol at the shop was 146.0p and diesel 152.9p this week – in the town petrol was around 150p at some outlets.
The couple’s stand follows the very successful promotion they ran last month when for one day only they sold fuel at mainland prices.
The couple are now displaying a notice on the pumps to say that wholesalers have indicated there should be a six pence price increase on petrol because of the rush to buy down south.
But Mr Preston said: “We don’t believe folk here should be paying because of the panic on the mainland.”
Mr Preston said that the wholesale petrol price quoted to him on Monday was 149.4p per litre, including VAT. He would normally charge 150p per litre, he said, but that was not taking into account the 5p derogation, which would effectively mean he was making 5.6p per litre.
Instead he said he was passing on the 5p to the customer and making only 1.6p per litre profit. Diesel would not be included in this move because the 5p had already come off and it was not so affected by panic buying.
Mr Preston said: “I have said to people I want to keep petrol prices below 150p. I can’t do much about diesel prices. Nobody in Shetland was panic buying, no-one has come with jerry cans, they didn’t let mass hysteria take over.”
He questioned why the 5p drop had not made an impact and concluded Scottish Fuels was making a lot of money this week, particularly as stocks of fuel already in Shetland would have been bought at a price that was fixed in the past at a price that was cheaper.
He said: “My question is to Sam Chambers [head of GB Oils of which Scottish Fuels is part] is what is he doing to make sure we’re not being penalised? We need action now. It shouldn’t be taking small businesses to stand up and say this is ridiculous.”
He thinks the new council could help: “If the new council don’t campaign they’re not realising the issues of the people they’re representing. Why doesn’t the council look at purchasing the North Ness site from Sam Chambers? Families and businesses are being hurt and that isn’t fair.”
Mr Preston said he would have “no issues” about showing people his invoices for the purchase of fuel.