Applegreen moving ahead with expansion in Northern Ireland despite Trump's win
Donald Trump's election victory will have no impact on Applegreen's plans to open seven branches here, the company's boss has confirmed.
Founder and chief executive Bob Etchingham said the business had performed well since launching in Northern Ireland last year.
"At this stage, we have a total of five (locations), but the big battleship locations are the motorway service stations at Belfast, Templepatrick and Lisburn," he told Business Telegraph after his company was named rising star of 2016 at the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards.
"We are building our third motorway service station on the inbound carriageway to Lisburn.
"We will hope to start next year on the inbound carriageway, opposite to our Templepatrick site.
"We will eventually have four motorway sites and three non-motorway sites."
The company's operations in Northern Ireland started out with a service station on the motorway between Glengormley and Templepatrick.
"They (the service stations) perform very well," Mr Etchingham explained.
"We are delighted at the response of the Northern Ireland consumer.
"Since day one, they (the service stations) have been very well-supported and frequented - hence the fact that we are continuing to build out the remaining sites that we have planning consent for.
"We are continuing to grow. Last year, in total, we added 50 stations and the same this year.
"We would hope to keep the overall number of sites we grow by each year to slightly above that level."
Applegreen has 235 locations across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK.
It also has around a dozen sites in the US.
Asked whether the US election would have an impact on the business, which is expanding into the country, Mr Etchingham insisted it would not.
"Not really," he said. "Both Trump and Brexit will have an impact on the US and the UK economy. But we are investing in infrastructure and real estate, and they are long-term plays.
"What might happen over the next couple of years isn't crucially important to us. We don't see ourselves changing our strategy or plans.
"We looking at it (the US) at the moment. What we are doing in the US is a pilot and a trial.
"Our experience in the run-up to Brexit (was that) the consumer seemed to be quite nervous. But once the vote happened, things normalised very quickly."