Maxol’s €2m expansion to focus on food courts

McMullan family working with independent food operators such as Supermac’s

Maxol, the forecourts network owned by the McMullan family, wants to transform itself into "a fresh foods business with fuel attached" as it expands in the face of growing competition from listed competitors, Applegreen and Topaz, which is now owned by Canadian giant Couche Tard.

Maxol yesterday announced a €2 million investment in two sites in Mayo, including the acquisition of the lease on a former car showroom in Castlebar that it will transform into a food court.

Another food court, including Maxol’s Moreish deli offering, will also be introduced as part of an expansion of another site in Westport.

The fuels retailer says it will heavily expand Moreish in the next 18 months, increasing the number of outlets from 31 to about 40 by the end of 2017.


Maxol is also examining the possibility of expanding Moreish into so-called “dry sites” – traditional retailing locations not located on garage forecourts.

Maxol is also working with other food brands, such as Pat McDonagh’s Supermac’s, Bobby Kerr’s Insomnia coffee chain, and Chopped, a salad business, as it expands its food business.

Opening 10 new sites

The Maxol group, which has sales of more than €600 million, comprises 227 sites, about 104 of which are company operated and the rest franchised.

Brian Donaldson, its general manager and incoming group chief executive, says it will open up to 10 new sites overall in the State this year.

Maxol is also planning six new sites in Northern Ireland, where it also plans to expand its network of unmanned fuel stations.

The group also this week received regulatory clearance to buy three former Esso sites.

“Our first television ad in almost 20 years will start on June 1st,” said Mr Donaldson. “We are committed to transforming ourselves into a fresh foods business with fuel attached.”

Unlike Applegreen and Topaz, he said, Maxol will not run the food businesses itself, instead preferring to partner with independent food operators.

Meanwhile, the trend towards fresh food expansion among forecourt businesses continues with the announcement of a partnership agreement between Applegreen and the Irisharm of Canadian fresh food brand Freshii.

Two former Aryzta senior executives, Dave O'Donoghue and Cormac Manning, who own the franchise here for Freshii, plan to open a number of sites on Applegreen's network of motorway service stations.

Mr O’Donoghue said the first site will open near Lusk in north Dublin next month, as part of a foodcourt in the station.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times