Applegreen to invest €117m in New Jersey highway plazas and HQ

US state’s Irish-American governor announces deal on Dublin trade mission

Irish forecourts retailer Applegreen is to invest $126 million (€117 million) renovating a network of 21 highway service plazas in New Jersey.

The company, which delisted from the stock market in Dublin last year in a near-€700 million deal backed by Blackstone, has also agreed to move the corporate headquarters for all its US plazas to the Glen Rock area of the state, north of New York city.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy announced the Applegreen investment in Dublin on Monday during a four-day trade mission here on behalf of the state. The company said its headquarters move would bring 100 administration and back-office roles to New Jersey, while the renovation of the highway facilities would also lead to the employment of 800 staff "in coming years".

Applegreen, which operates more than 200 forecourts in its Irish home market, won the concession last summer to operate the New Jersey state highway retail and fuel plaza network. It said the first two facilities to be revamped, the Woodrow Wilson and Molly Pitcher sites on the New Jersey Turnpike, would be finished before US Independence Day on July 4th.

The company, which listed on the stock market in Dublin in 2015, has invested heavily in expanding its US operations in recent years, which are focused on the eastern seaboard and include more than 90 major plaza facilities in the northeast.

Mr Murphy, whose Irish roots can be traced to Cork, said the company’s investment would “generate significant economic growth” in New Jersey.

Including ordinary filling stations, it operates 250 separate sites across 18 US states, employing more than 5,000 staff there. It also operates more than 160 sites in the UK.

The company's chief executive, Bob Etchingham, and its chief operating officer, Joe Barrett, who together owned more than 40 per cent of Applegreen, took it private last year with Blackstone's backing. They said the deal would help it focus on motorway service centres and the rollout of electric-vehicle charging.

Applegreen last year explored a sale of its filling station business in the UK but it recently decided not to go ahead with a deal.