Applegreen boss has no Brexit fears despite weak pound
The weak pound has made the M1 corridor in Ireland more challenging for forecourt retailer Applegreen, but chief executive Bob Etchingham said that he was not concerned about the UK economy despite an approaching Brexit.
The company has seven assets in Northern Ireland, including three motorway service areas - two on either side of the M1 outside Lisburn and a third on the M2 in Templepatrick.
It also operates three filling stations in Hillsborough, Coleraine and Ballymena.
Mr Etchingham said the attractiveness of buying fuel in the Republic "has lessened because of the impact of sterling". But he admitted that he wouldn't overstate the impact on the business.
Mr Etchingham was speaking as Applegreen unveiled a strong set of first-half results, with revenue rising 21% to €672.5m (£606m) and gross profits up 20% to €82.2m (£74m).
Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were 28% higher at €16.6m (£15m) in the period. Its performance was boosted by higher fuel margins and increased food sales. Stock market-listed Applegreen generated €384m (£346m) of its first-half revenue and €57.1m (£51.5m) of its gross profits in Ireland. Of that, fuel accounted for €290.3m (£262m) of sales and €18m (£16.2m) of gross profits.
Revenue at the Irish operations was 15.4% higher year-on-year while gross profit in the period was up 16.4%.
Mr Etchingham said that the UK economy remained solid despite consumer unease surrounding Brexit.
"I think there are some signs, but they're relatively small," he said of the impact of the UK's planned exit from the EU. "It's a mixed message that we're getting in the UK at the moment.
"At the end of the day, people buy what we have. We find that even during bad times, our business keeps on ticking over quite nicely.
"We're not concerned about the UK economy."