The company behind Applegreen racked up €128.5 million of pretax losses in the first 22 months after it was taken private by US private-equity giant Blackstone and the forecourt retailer’s top managers in early 2021, driven by an increase in group funding costs following a debt refinancing.
The holding company behind Applegreen, which has more than 600 sites across Ireland, the UK and the United States, said in its latest set of accounts, filed in recent days with the Companies Registration Office, that its financing costs for last year came to €141.6 million, compared with €105 million for its first 10 months as a private company in 2021.
However, Applegreen’s funding costs amounted to only €81 million for the year to the end of 2020, its last full year on the stock market.
The increase followed an Applegreen refinancing months after it was taken private in March 2021 from the stock market in a €718 million deal that saw the company’s founder Robert Etchingham and long-standing executive Joe Barrett retain a 42.5 per cent stake in the group. The company was founded in 1992 with one station in Ballyfermot in west Dublin.
The financial statement for the holding company, known as Causeway Consortium Holdings Limited, showed that its bank loans stood at €988.9 million at the end of 2022. That was up from consolidated bank borrowings of €661.3 million at Applegreen at the end of 2020, and followed a complete refinancing of its bank facilities in July 2021 a few months after the takeover was completed.
The group also raised €175 million in 2021 following the takeover by issuing so-called payment-in-kind notes to its majority shareholder, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners, which carry an initial interest rate of 9 per cent.
Total borrowings amounted to €2.62 billion at the end of last year, including leases on properties. Cash and cash equivalents amounted to just under €400 million.
Causeway Consortium Holdings reported a €83.5 million pretax loss last year, compared with a shortfall of €45 million posted for the first 10 months of trade in 2021, according to the latest report.
Revenue last year amounted to €4.1 billion, up from €2.7 billion for 10 months in 2021, driven by an increase in travel post-Covid and spike in fuel prices globally. Gross profit increased to €891.3 million from €601.2 million.
However, selling and distribution expenses also rose, to €755 million, from €451.6 million for the shorter trading period in 2021.
Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) for the year, which is viewed by management as the main performance metric, increased to €253.7 million from €197.1 million.
“The group is adapting to meet the needs of an evolving consumer who has access to greater food and beverage alternatives and is increasingly less likely to drive a petrol or diesel vehicle,” Causeway Consortium Holdings said in the report.
“The group is focused on identifying and capturing these opportunities, especially in the key US market.”
Applegreen’s then independent directors decided in late 2020 to unanimously recommend the takeover bid by Blackstone and the company’s founding directors, arguing that the company faced borrowing constraints as a listed company as it faced large investments in electric car charging facilities and US highway service areas.