Supermac’s McDonagh eyes fuel group expansion with Ennis plaza

Restaurant owner to reapply for leave to build on Galway-to-Limerick motorway

Supermac's owner Pat McDonagh is planning on expanding his plaza fuel group with an application for planning permission to build his eighth premises at Ennis, Co Clare, at a cost of €10 million.

A motorway service station controlled by Mr McDonagh was originally given permission by Clare County Council at the site, but was blocked by An Bord Pleanála. Now the company has decided to reapply with a new plan to build a motorway service station on the Galway-to-Limerick motorway, Mr McDonagh told The Irish Times.

The plaza will be similar to existing facilities, including the Barack Obama plaza in Co Tipperary, and the recently-completed Portlaoise one in Co Laois.

In addition to a retail unit and a fuel court there will be a food court with Supermac’s, Papa John’s pizza, a Super Subs outlet as well as a deli.

Mr McDonagh noted that the facility would employ about 130 full-time and part-time workers, and would “have a positive impact on the local economy”. It will also promote local tourist attractions.

Mr McDonagh’s business empire – which in 2018 recorded profits of €23.7 million on sales of €172 million – now includes the seven plazas, six hotels under the Só Hotel brand, and 108 Supermac’s outlets. The group employs more than 4,000 staff.

Mr McDonagh said his rural outlets were currently outperforming those in urban areas. “City centres are getting hammered right across the country. Not alone are they short of people working from home but up to now they’ve been short of night life.”


Asked to predict how his business would fare for the winter, he said he would be “reasonably optimistic” that his businesses would at the very least justify their existence. “Unfortunately money is getting scarce out there, there’s not doubt about that.”

He said his hotel business is likely to be down on turnover by more than 30 per cent, while the motorway service stations would be down by a similar amount by the end of the year, having lost about 70 per cent of business at the height of the lockdown. He predicted the Supermac’s outlets would be down by between 30 per cent and 35 per cent.

Those predictions “all depend on how this virus spreads across the country” in the coming months, he added.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business