A BUSINESS-SAVVY couple who spent more than three decades serving the people of Peebles have announced their retirement.

Last week Stewart and Patricia Robb spent their final day running the KeyStore Express on the town’s Eastgate.

Stewart, 62, and 59-year-old Patricia – who have spent the past 31 years in four different shop locations in Peebles – said the convenience store was now under new ownership.

Patricia said: “We’re not quite at retirement age yet but we feel older than we are. We felt now was the right time.

“We just wanted to thank all our staff and customers for all their support and thank them for all the cards, gifts and well-wishes we have received.”

In a Facebook post last week, the couple – who celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary on Wednesday (September 7) – said they would miss the “banter and local gossip” but hoped the KeyStore would continue to be people’s ‘one shop stop’ in Peebles.

The Robbs have bought a house in the Isle of Lewis and will move there permanently once their Walkerburn home has sold.

Despite loving the Peebles area, the couple – who have four children – said they wanted a “complete change of lifestyle” in their retirement.

Ashok Pothugunta, 43, took over the Eastgate shop on August 31.

He vowed to “keep prices low and help its customers with anything they need”.

Mr Pothugunta started his retail career as a shop assistant, in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, and rose to be area manager before branching out on his own, about 10 years ago, with a store at Clanfield, near Portsmouth.

With his wife he runs the chain through Ashco Investments Ltd and recently opened his first Scottish shop at Selkirk’s Spar.

Mr Pothugunta said: “We found the KeyStore through brokers Christie. I love Peebles and its historical roots.

“We will keep the existing paper rounds and hope to extend the opening hours from 6am to 10pm.

“We intend to bring back online delivery with Snappy Shopper.

“KeyStore is part of Co-op and we hope to bring in some of their lines in fresh food.”

Mr Pothugunta has one concern which is the current high price of electricity.

“About seven months ago electricity was 17p a unit. In May, when I signed up for the Selkirk store, we were quoted 32p a unit and it is now 73p a unit, making our monthly bill nearly £5,000.

“When the new Prime Minister comes in perhaps something will happen with energy prices.”

Ganesh Poemudi, 30, who moved from Coventry to work in Selkirk, will transfer to Peebles to manage the business.

The existing staff of three will remain with a further worker to be recruited.