PETROL station chain Topaz said it is trading “satisfactorily” this year and is looking for further acquisitions after makinga pre-tax loss of €19.1 million in 2009.
It said revenue is down as the level of activity in Ireland contracts but this is offset by a strong focus on cost control.
In accounts just filed with the Companies Registration Office the company’s chairman, Neil O’Leary, said that apart from the effects of the recent extreme weather the fall-off in sales is bottoming out currently and the results for the year to March 2010 will “be in line with our projected range”.
“FY2010 will be a successful year which represents a particularly strong performance given the economic climate. Looking forward Topaz will seek additional organic growth and will consider further acquisitions,” he added.
For the year to March 31, 2009, Topaz reported a pre-tax loss of €19.1m compared with a profit of €2.6m in the pervious year.
In the year the company employed 1,385 compared with 1,293 in the previous year. Staff costs were €44.8m in the year compared with €38.6m in the previous year.
The “very sudden and also unprecedented” collapse in the value of oil in August 2008 resulted in a one-off stock loss of around €17m.
The company said that as there was uncertainty as to the impact of the recession in 2009 so it restructured its bank financing.
This, it said, allowed it to lengthen its term debt obligations and “conservatively term a tranche of our working capital lines to give us maximum flexibility”.
“The response to the brand continues to exceed expectations. Our challenge now is to utilise the brand spend and goodwill generated, to drive more activity from our assets and add to the bottom line,” the company said.
Chief executive Eddie O’Brien said looking at the market in early 2010it clearly remains challenging in terms of the impact of lower economic activity. He added that the changes the company has made to the business model will ensure a return to “more normalised financial performance”.
The company said that rolling out the Topaz brand during 2008 and additional activities, for example managing the additional 35 company operated forecourts, resulted in additional operating costs of €14m compared to the previous year.
The company said the year to the end of March 2009 was a “very exciting year” within its forecourt and convenience business area, with the launch and rollout of the Topaz brand to 290 forecourts in Ireland.
“The financial year 2009/10 will show further growth in this sector despite the recession.”
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