Service station firm Petrogas reports pretax profit of €4m


MOTORWAY SERVICE station operator Petrogas, the company behind the Applegreen chain, made a pretax profit of €4 million in the year to the end of June 2010.

This compares to a profit of €1.7 million in the previous 12-month period, accounts filed recently at the Companies Office for Petrogas Group Limited show.

Turnover increased 29 per cent to €399 million, while earnings before tax and writedowns arrived at €10 million. The net profit retained for the year came to almost €3.4 million, according to the accounts.

The bulk of the turnover – some €332 million – comes from Petrogas’s operations in the Republic, with the remainder relating to service stations in the UK.

Applegreen is part of a consortium that holds a public-private partnership (PPP) contract with the National Roads Authority (NRA) to build and operate six motorway service areas. It received a government grant of €35,000 in 2010, the accounts indicate. Three of the motorway service areas have now opened.

The Superstop consortium was formed in October 2009 as a partnership between Applegreen, Top Oil and the now liquidated building group Pierse Contracting.

Petrogas received a sum of €222,227 during the accounting period from Superstop Limited, as “reimbursement of bid costs in connection with the NRA contract”.

In a note accompanying the accounts, Petrogas chairman Bob Etchingham, who founded the group in 1992, said it had been “hampered by the lack of available credit facilities, especially in Ireland”. However, he added that “stable and consistent” cash flows and its position in a secure sector “provide a high degree of reassurance” to its lenders.

“Hopefully this credit situation will improve significantly during the coming year,” Mr Etchingham said.

No dividend was paid, the accounts show. The company has shareholders’ funds of €47,096.

The Petrogas group, which operates 65 service stations in the Republic, employed 515 people in the UK and Ireland last year, up from 387 in 2009. Some 445 of the jobs are in retail. Staff costs increased from €11.9 million to €16.2 million.

The group has 11 per cent of the motor fuel market. Its annual review shows it also sells 173,000 cups of coffee every month.

Since the end of the financial year, the group has been restructured so that Petrogas Global Limited has become the new holding company, with Petrogas Group and Applegreen Service Areas Limited among the subsidiaries. The latter company will show the trading results for the PPP motorway service areas.

The group also holds the master franchise in Ireland for Wimpy restaurants; however, this does not form a large part of its total business.