Dordogne villagers raise €170,000 in days to open petrol station

Mayor says the project will help stop people travelling out of town to fill their cars and shop

Villagers contributed up to €10,000 each to restart the fuel business in Saint-Saud-Lacoussière, Dordogne
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A fuel station has opened in a small village in south-west France after locals raised €170,000 in a few days to fund it.

When an existing station in Saint-Saud-Lacoussière in Dordogne closed in December 2022, its 1,000 residents decided to act.

Mayor Pierre Duval said: “We created a new station by asking private individuals to subscribe.”

They contributed up to €10,000 each.

“This raised €170,000 in just a few days, which is huge and unexpected and unforeseen for this community.”

A bank loan provided the rest of the funds needed to reopen the business.

Read more: Villagers in France save last local shop by funding it themselves

Important for all the local businesses

“I was involved, like others,” Mr Duval said. “But it’s not a community project. It has become a private initiative.”

When asked what impact the station will have, he said: “While people are filling up, they’re also shopping nearby.

“It was important for all the local businesses: the mini-market, the pharmacy, the restaurant.

“We are far away from everything here. People could start getting into bad habits, filling up at stations that are about 15 kilometres away.”

The station is selling around 1,000 litres of fuel per day, currently at €1.949 for diesel and €1.979 for unleaded 95.

Mr Duval admitted he was surprised by the funding success.

“We didn’t think it would work so well,” he said. “It just goes to show local people are attached to their community. When projects are worthwhile, they will contribute.”

He said he was proud of the achievement and it could “open up new horizons, perhaps for other projects”.

Will not sell fuel at a loss despite law change

The station opening comes at an interesting time, as legislation is being drafted to allow fuel to be sold at a loss for six months, starting in December.

This practice was banned in 1963 to protect smaller businesses from being priced out of the market by larger rivals.

Trade association Mobilians said selling fuel at a loss was “economically unviable for independent distributors”.

It warned that they would not be able to offset the measure with other revenues, such as food sales, and welcomed the compensation measures offered to smaller outlets.

Read more: Supermarkets in France to run more ‘at cost’ fuel sales

For Mr Duval and the Saint-Saud-Lacoussière station, selling fuel at a loss is out of the question.

“The margins we make are insignificant. At a station like this, it’s a few centimes a litre, so there’s simply no chance of it,” he said.

“Let’s just say we’re trying to keep up with the average sales around us, and that’s not bad.”

Despite the proposed law change, France’s main fuel supplier TotalEnergies has ruled out the possibility of selling at a loss, saying its current €1.99 cap is sufficient.

Carrefour, Intermarché, U and E.Leclerc have also ruled it out.

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