Forecourt retailer Applegreen has reported a 20% increase in gross profits for the first six months of this year at just over €82m. That was on revenue of €672.5m - also up by a fifth. The retailer reported good growth in fuel margins in the six month period.

"It's fair to say that fuel margins normalised versus a difficult period at the end of 2016," Bob Etchingham, the chief executive of Applegreen said. "It's a very competitive market and not a high margin business, especially at Applegreen's price point. We make money in store, selling higher margin products like coffee and food."

The Applegreen CEO said he was not overly concerned about the evolving technologies of electric vehicles just yet. "We've lived with improvements in engine efficiency for many years. We haven't seen much growth in fuel volumes so we've adapted to that.  "Electric cars are still a while off. The emerging consensus is that about 10% of car fleet will be electric by 2030. That's something we can manage and live with."


Mr Etchingham said electric cars account for less than 1% of car sales at the moment. Many retailers are providing charge points for free, but he said it could become an important earner in years to come, especially on motorways as people charge their cars on long journeys. 

On Brexit, Mr Etchingham said Applegreen had seen no direct impact on its business from the vote in the UK, other than the impact of sterling translation. "We've seen some softness in consumer sentiment. Growth in the UK is a bit anaemic. There are mixed messages from UK consumer and political uncertainty isn't helping," he concluded.

***
MORNING BRIEFS - 300,000 fewer trips were taken to Ireland by British people due to the collapse in sterling following the Brexit vote. That represents about €88m in lost revenue, according to an analysis carried out by Fáilte Ireland. It says it would have amounted to an estimated 1,900 job losses in the industry had the fall in British numbers not been compensated by a strong performance in other markets. Fáilte Ireland is launching a range of industry supports this morning designed to help businesses to assess their exposure and risks and to provide a range of interventions to match their needs.

*** A US chicken processor has bought Northern Ireland based poultry supplier Moy Park in a deal worth about $1 billion. Pilgrims' Pride struck the deal with Brazil's JBS, which is offloading some of its assets to reduce mounting debts. JBS announced its intention to offload Moy Park earlier in the summer, coming less than two years after it first acquired the company in a deal worth €1.3 billion.

*** Apple will unveil what is expected to be its first $1,000 iPhone today. The iPhone X comes on the tenth anniversary of the launch of the first iPhone. The company hopes the new device will help it overcome its growth problem, particularly in Europe and the American market, where smartphone ownership is reaching saturation. Apple is also expected to unveil minor upgrades to its existing models.