Martin McColl bucks high street gloom to refinance loan book

Michael Bow
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NEWSAGENT and food store Martin McColl yesterday said it had successfully rolled over £126.5m of debt, setting up ambitious plans to expand the group by 150 stores over the next two years.

The group, which was set up Scottish footballer Robert Smyth McColl in 1901, refinanced its debt pile with a group of five existing lenders and one new lender, underscoring plans to take the total number of convenience stores it owns to 800 from 650 by 2015.

Martin McColl chief financial officer Jonathan Miller said: “This funding will help us to realise our ambitious growth targets within the UK convenience sector as we look to expand our existing portfolio. Combined with our strong financial performance, the refinancing provides us with a sound platform from which to achieve our potential.”

It is the third largest owner of convenience stores in the country, operating them under the McColl's brand. Its newsagent arm, Martin’s, is the largest in the country having absorbed rivals Forbuoys and Dillons in the late 1990s.

The refinanced debt includes a £68m senior loan and £15m overdraft provided by a club of banks made up of Lloyds, Barclays, AIB, Santander and SEB. It has also refinanced a £43.5m mezzanine loan from Caird Capital.