Applegreen eyes expanded US presence as profits pumped
Irish forecourt retailer Applegreen is in talks to expand its footprint in the United States after delivering strong results for 2015.
The company, which floated on the stockmarket last year, is in negotiations with a potential franchise partner in the US, and also in discussions to extend its trial presence there to Massachusetts.
Applegreen currently has five outlets in Long Island, having acquired three sites there last year.
But chief executive Bob Etchingham stressed that the US remains a small part of the group's business and that it's focused on a long-term play there.
"We've always said that one of the advantages of going to the States is that it will allow us to develop relationships with people that we wouldn't come across on this side of the pond," he told the Irish Independent. "That seems to be the way it's developing, but it's early days and we haven't had anything committed yet, so we don't want to get too worked up about it." He added that the US operation managed to break even last year.
But it's in Ireland and the UK where Applegreen continues to see its biggest opportunity.
The company's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), rose 26pc to €28.9m last year, while revenue was 15pc higher at €1.08bn.
The company operates from 200 sites, including forecourts and motorway service areas. It has just opened its second service area in Northern Ireland.
Applegreen spent €58.8m on capital expenditure last year, and chief financial officer Paul Lynch said that the company currently has sufficient funds for its planned estate development into next year.
Last year, Applegreen expanded its portfolio by 48 sites, 37 of them in the Republic of Ireland. It's likely to increase it by a similar rate this year.