For Topaz, it's all in the timing

Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 00:00

It seems Irish fuel group Topaz, which is part-owned by Denis O’Brien, got its timing just right when it came to renegotiating its debts with Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. Topaz’s takeover of the former Statoil and Shell networks in Ireland was funded back in the day by Anglo Irish Bank. It is believed to have been one of IBRC’s performing loans before the Government’s shock decision this week to liquidate the bank.

The company recently agreed a rescheduling of its debt repayments and working capital facilities out to December 2015. This reduced its short-term financial commitments by €48 million.

As part of that agreement, I’m told that Topaz secured €9 million for investment purposes this year, largely to fund three or four new filling stations.

Loyalty game

It also has other big-ticket investment plans in the pipeline. These include the launch this week of an interactive loyalty game for customers called Play or Park. This involves a €3 million investment and the company hopes it will attract more than 250,000 members in the first year. Prizes will include a holiday to the Maldives, a shopping trip in New York, a visit to the Monaco Grand Prix and a free car with fuel for a year.

Topaz chairman Neil O’Leary even got to hang out with former Miss World Rosanna Davison at a photo-shoot for the launch. Tough life.

Play or Park seems to have been an instant hit with customers, with 50,000 signing up in the first few days.

Who knows, maybe former IBRC boss Mike Aynsley and his former senior colleagues will be tempted to give it a go after being made redundant in unceremonious circumstances this week.