Fuel forecourt and service station operator Applegreen has reported a 55% increase in gross profits for the 12 months to December as its revenues grew by almost 41%.

Applegreen said its gross profit for the year came to €282.3m, while its revenues hit €2.012 billion from €1,428 billion the previous year.

The company said its adjusted profit before tax for 2018 rose by 14.6% to €28.3m from €24.7m the previous year.

Applegreen's Board has proposed a final dividend of 0.91 cent per share, up from 0.80 cent per share in 2017. 

The company's chief executive Bob Etchingham said Applegreen's performance was driven by ongoing expansion of its estate, positive like for like growth despite weather related disruption and strong fuel margin performance, particularly in the fourth quarter of the year.

Bob Etchingham said the deal for the second largest UK motorway service area operator, Welcome Break, was transformational for the company and gives it an "excellent" platform to develop its service area business in the UK market.

"The Applegreen business continued to expand in each of our three markets as we increased our estate by 130 sites to a total of 472 locations," the CEO said.

The company opened 16 new sites in the Republic of Ireland, 61 in the UK (including 43 acquired Welcome Break sites) and 53 in the US during the 12 month period. 

"Trading conditions remain generally good despite uncertainty caused by macro events. We anticipate another year of robust growth for the business," Mr Etchingham said. 

"Our primary focus will be on the integration of Welcome Break and further reducing leverage but we will also continue to evaluate new opportunities to further expand the business in the future," he added.

Applegreen said its 2018 revenues in the Republic of Ireland increased by 11.6% and gross profit increased by 12.9%. 

Total fuel gross profit increased by 17.1% compared to 2017, which the company said reflected the impact of an additional contribution from the Joint Fuel Terminal acquisition in Dublin which was bought in mid-2017. 

Meanwhile, the company said its like for like food and store sales and gross profit increased year on year by 3.3% and 2% respectively, despite the adverse winter weather impact in March and the summer heatwave conditions. 

Applegreen said its dealer and fuel card volumes continued to grow last year and now account for 32% of ROI fuel volumes on a combined basis. 

During the year, it added 16 new sites to its Irish portfolio which included three service area sites, four petrol filling station sites and nine dealer sites. 

Including contributions from the Welcome Break deal, revenue and gross profit growth in the UK - on a constant currency basis - was 56.6% and 117.7%, respectively 

Total fuel gross profit in the UK increased by 2.3% on a like for like basis which Applegreen said reflected a very strong performance for the second half of 2018 offsetting the impact of competitive pricing pressures, weather disruption and rising oil commodity prices.

61 new sites were added to Applegreen's UK portfolio during the year, including 43 through the Welcome Break acquisition (34 motorway service areas, three trunk road service areas and six stand-alone hotels) as well as 18 new petrol filling stations. 

Applegreen said its revenues in the US increased by 224.6% and gross profit by 217.1%, primarily due to the full year impact of the 2017 acquisition in South Carolina as well as the sites added in 2018. 

During the year, the group added 53 new sites in the US.

Shares in the company moved higher in Dublin trade today.