Business Irish

Monday 22 January 2018

DCC downplays Brexit impact and eyes fresh markets

Tommy Breen, chief executive of DCC
Tommy Breen, chief executive of DCC
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

It's "inevitable" that Irish distribution giant DCC will eventually make an acquisition outside Europe, but chief executive Tommy Breen said he won't commit to a timeline or any particular geography.

"Energy is the most obvious area that you'd say there'd be opportunity for us to expand outside of Europe, but there may be other businesses as well where that will happen," he said.

"It's not a strategic priority that we say we want to be operating outside of Europe by the end of this year or next year - that would be a mistake.

"We've already started seeing opportunities elsewhere and we'll wait until we think the time is right," said Mr Breen.

Last year, DCC paid €464m to buy French gas firm Butagaz from Shell, and €106m to buy Esso's unmanned petrol stations in France.

Mr Breen was speaking as DCC - whose activities stretch from the distribution of fuel, healthcare and technology to the operation of service stations across Europe, as well as waste management - reported record profits for its financial year ended in March.

Operating profit soared just under 36pc to £300.5m (€383m), while revenue was unchanged at £10.6bn (€13.5bn). Excluding its energy division, revenue was 3.5pc higher at £3.08bn (€3.9bn).

DCC is the largest supplier of home heating oil in the UK, and also owns unmanned petrol stations in countries such as France and Sweden. It also operates about 40 motorway service stations in France.

DCC has also agreed to buy 139 forecourts in Denmark, where it already has a presence.

Operating profit at the energy unit rose 72pc last year to £205.2m.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Breen said that the company has examined how a potential Brexit could impact the firm, but doesn't believe it will have much of an effect.

"We think there'll be very limited direct impact," he said. "We operate in a number of European countries, but we don't physically trade across borders."

He pointed out that in its energy division, for instance, DCC buys product in each country in which it operates, to sell in each country.

On the technology side, mostly it buys product "in-country" to sell on in each jurisdiction.

"The bit that's more difficult is how much uncertainty and how much volatility it would bring," said Mr Breen.

"If that transpired, we're going to see some impact from that, but there's not a lot we can do about it."

Irish Independent

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