Fuel forecourt and service station operator Applegreen has said its footfall and volumes have been impacted in the last two weeks as governments and customers take increasing measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In a trading update, Applegreen said that all of its stores remain open.

It said that it is working hard to protect the health and safety of its staff as well as provide an essential service in the communities in which it operates. 

It said it has implemented an extensive range of measures to safeguard its staff and communities across its three regions - Ireland, the UK and the US. 

"The group's supply chain has remained fully operational and its strong customer service levels have been maintained," the company said. 

Applegreen said that given the ongoing uncertainty, it was not able to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on its financial and trading performance at this stage, but said it expects a material reduction to profitability for the current financial year. 

"The scale is dependent on how the situation develops and over what timeframe, and the impact of further measures taken by the governments in the markets in which we operate," it added.

The company also said it was taking short term measures to conserve cash, including deferring development capital expenditure and reducing its operating cost base.

Applegreen said it would implement a recruitment freeze and would defer executive director bonuses. 

It also said it would avail of newly introduced government relief measures and will open talks with landlords on potential rental holidays.

Applegreen also said that in order to preserve liquidity, its board has decided not to recommend a final dividend in relation to 2019 at its forthcoming AGM. 

It added that its banks remain supportive and it will update the market more fully in the preliminary results statement due on Friday.