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Forecourt retailer Applegreen looks to grow US presence

By John Mulligan

Forecourt retailer Applegreen won't rule out making an acquisition in the United States after committing to the market following three years of trialling its concept there, according to chief executive Bob Etchingham.

He said the group - which has five sites in Northern Ireland - is looking at a "number of potential opportunities" in the US, where Applegreen has extended its presence in Long Island and moved into Massachusetts.

He was speaking to analysts as Applegreen announced its maiden dividend, as strong food sales in Ireland helped to deliver an 18.6% rise to €21m (£18.4m) in adjusted pre-tax profits for 2016. Revenue last year rose 8.2% to €1.17bn (£1bn).

The company's small dividend to shareholders, which will amount to about €1m, is the first since it floated on the stockmarket in 2015.

Applegreen has six outlets in Long Island, and last year signed a deal to lease nine sites in Massachusetts from CrossAmerica Partners.

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