Petrol retailer Applegreen eyes 10 sites

Applegreen, the Irish petrol forecourt firm which made its stock market debut in June, plans to open a further 10 outlets across Ireland, the UK, and the US by the end of the year as it seeks to tap the strong economic recovery.

It also said it has little to fear in higher costs from any increases in the minimum wage here and proposed increases in the so-called ‘living wage’ in Britain because, it says, any increases could work in its favour by boosting consumer spending.

The company yesterday said its gross profit rose by over 34.5% to €56.9m in the first six months to the end of June from a year earlier.

Pre-tax profit fell 6% to €3m due to one-off items including accounting costs related to financing share incentives. Net profit rose 8.3% to €2.7m.

Total revenues climbed by over 16% to €517.5m but, measured on a-like-for-like basis, fuel revenues fell mainly because of the drop in pump prices.

Food revenue at the business rose significantly under the same basis. Its link-up with six take-away retailers, including Burger King and Costa, continues to drive its business.

Applegreen shares fell 3.5% to €4.80 in Dublin.

The company said there is evidence of a tentative start of recovery in consumer spending in Ireland and hopes that tax cuts in the budget next month will help increase spending further.

Its total estate sites in Ireland, Britain, and the US, which stood at 152 at the end of last year and at 175 sites at the end of June, has since grown to 190 outlets.

It operates over 100 sites and has a further 25 independently-owned ‘dealer’ sites across the country. 

The company said that is sticking to a policy of acquiring individual sites because potential big deals it examined in the past did not provide enough value to the company.

“It is really about getting the right food offerings for the UK market,” said co-founder Joe Barrett. 

“While we have a very strong understanding of what works well in Ireland and we are rolling those out, in the UK it is a different market and in the service station market, customers are very brand loyal.”

Applegreen estimates it has up to 14% of the fuel market in the Republic, and believes Topaz will have around a market share of 35%, if competition regulators approve its planned acquisition of some Esso stations. 

Applegreen says it competes on a local level and market share “is not a big issue for the company”.


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