Monday 20 May 2019

Applegreen founders sell a 7.5pc stake in retailer for €27m

One of the Applegreen service stations on the M1 going north
One of the Applegreen service stations on the M1 going north
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Applegreen's two founders - chief executive Bob Etchingham and chief operating officer Joe Barrett - have sold a 7.5pc stake in the stock market-listed forecourt retailer for a total of €27m.

The pair continue to be major shareholders in the firm.

Their Malta-based B&J Holdings entity still owns 60pc of Applegreen's share capital, with Mr Etchingham owning 75pc of B&J, and Mr Barrett owning 25pc.

The shares in Applegreen were sold by B&J Holdings at €4.50 each, which represented a 5pc discount to the closing price on Tuesday. Shares in the company were changing hands yesterday at about €4.70. That values the remaining 60pc of Applegreen shares held by B&J at just over €226m.

The share placing was not public and it was handled by Goodbody Stockbrokers and Shore Capital.

Applegreen floated on the stock market last year, raising almost €92m and using the proceeds to help expand its presence in Ireland and the UK.

It operates a total of 220 sites, including motorway service areas across the island of Ireland. It also has a handful of US outlets in Long Island, and has recently inked a deal to expand the brand into Massachusetts. Last week, Applegreen reported that first-half revenue rose 7.4pc to €556.6m, while its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), was up 15pc at €13m.

Applegreen said that trading in Ireland was particularly strong during July and August, while it also picked up notably in the UK during the summer following the Brexit vote there.

At the end of this month, it will submit plans for what would be its first motorway service area in Britain. It would be located in Hampshire.

"We are the consultation stage with the public and the first formal planning application will go in later this month," said Mr Etchingham.

"We have a number of other opportunities that we're prepping for, and they will go into the planning system in the first quarter of next year. It'll be two or three years before we see any results from that work."

Applegreen generated €49.1m of its €68.5m gross profit during the first half in Ireland, with €18.4m made in the UK. In Ireland, food accounted for 37p of the gross profit figure here, with fuel contributing 31pc and its stores 32pc.

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