Forecourt owner Applegreen set for London float

Kasmira Jefford
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Applegreen is moving away from the recession with a £230m IPO
APPLEGREEN, one of Ireland’s biggest petrol forecourt retailers, announced plans yesterday to make a £230m stock market debut, in what will be the first Irish retail initial public offering (IPO) since the recession.

Applegreen is part of Irish fuel group Petrogas, founded by former Esso executive Bob Etchingham in 1994. It has 152 forecourts including 54 in the UK, which it runs under its own brands as well as franchises including Subway, Costa Coffee and Burger King.

The company intends to raise €70m (£50m) in a dual Aim and Irish stock market listing to fund the acquisition of more forecourts from independent rivals as well oil companies disposing of many of their sites to focus on their upstream operations.

Oil companies accounted for 85 per cent of all forecourts sold in 2014, according to property advisers Barber Wadlow, with Esso planning to halve its estate to 200 sites and Shell aiming to sell around 250 by the end of 2015.

“We believe there are significant opportunities for expansion across the Republic of Ireland and the UK,” Etchingham said.

“The group is well positioned to benefit from recovering economic growth and increased disposable income in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, as well as favourable market trends as the oil majors exit the forecourt market,” he added.

Applegreen, which recorded almost €1bn of sales last year, has built its strategy around offering the lowest fuel prices possible to draw customers into its forecourts to buy food and drink products.

It aims to revamp around 70 of its existing sites and accelerate growth to around 20 new sites a year.

The company will have a free-float of around 25 per cent following the listing, which is being handled by Shore Capital and Goodbody Stockbrokers.

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