Joe Barrett & Paul Pardy, Applegreen

This year has been one of announcements for Applegreen. In January, the company launched its Dealer business in Ireland and now it has brought a new fuel card to the market to complement its customer offering.

The new ‘LowFuelcard’ follows on from Applegreen’s philosophy of offering discount fuel to the retail market. Price is the primary business driver when it comes to fuel and the LowFuelcard is taking full advantage of this.

Paul Pardy, general manager of Applegreen’s Fuel Card Division told IFCR: “We believe our prices will be lower than the competitors and since we launched in February we have been successful so far in landing commercial accounts and new customers.

“We intend to move the business forward with our lower price point,” he added.

Applegreen has been steadily increasing its site numbers over the past five years. From a predominately east coast operation in the early days, it now has a network extending nationwide and continues to increase its footprint across Ireland.

Applegreen COO Joe Barratt explained: “It’s fair to say that we are satisfying a need that our customers have been demanding for some years now and that is what has driven our entry into the fuel card market. We have lots of busy sites near industrial estates and on motorways and they will benefit from this addition to their services.”

Paul is also confident that card’s ease of use will be a big plus for customers.

“There’s the convenience of the online registration, itemised billing system, online account management and customers can also collect Applegreen Reward Points when using the LowFuelcard – plus most of or forecourts are open 24 hours.

“It’s a competitive market but it gives us more opportunities to provide our customers with low fuel prices,” said Paul.

“A lot of customers are delighted we have entered the market and we have already won some accounts that we are extremely pleased with.”

In fact, the LowFuelcard has already gotten off to a positive start as Applegreen has successfully teamed up with another party to win a key government tender.

The company has also extended its charitable fund donations to the LowFuelcard which means for every purchase, this year’s charities – Anam Cara and Crumlin Children’s Hospital -will benefit.

Applegreen’s LowFuelcard team

“We have been incredibly successful with the level of money we have raised for charity,” said Joe. “ In the past two years we raised more than €400k for our chosen charities.”

Joe sees the LowFuelcard as an area that will take three or four years to grow and develop and will expand with Applegreen’s network.

“Once we refine the offer, we will bring it to our UK network and it completes our offer to the customer within the forecourt market. Last month we launched the Dealer business, an area in which we weren’t operating, so the fuel card helps us complete that offering. We will use this experience to launch into other markets. “

Already operating a strong company owned network, Applegreen’s Dealer business will see its first two dealers operational in the coming weeks, the first being in May.

The company-owned network is also adding to its network with six more Motorway Service Areas (MSAs) the first of which will open this year at Junction 14 M11 Coynes Cross, in Co Wicklow.

“We have six MSAs fully up and operational and are building six more that will open this year and next. The first on the M11 Coynes Cross  will open in June, Birdhill will open in November and three sites in Northern Ireland will be operational in 2015,” revealed Joe.

“We developed the original six MSAs with a building contractor and bulk fuel supplier Top Oil but the six new MSAs will be 100 per cent Applegreen as we are managing the building process ourselves,” said Joe.

Aside from the forecourt market, Applegreen has also successfully opened two new food courts, one in Carlow and the other in Tralee.

The Tralee outlet offers a Burger King Restaurant, drive-through, Subway sandwich bar and Applegreen own ‘Bakewell’ café. The Carlow food court also offers a Burger King Drive though and Bakewell café.

“These are stand-alone food offerings,” said Joe. “We would see ourselves as being as accomplished in food as we are in fuel and the food courts have been received extremely well since their openings.”

Outside of Ireland, Applegreen is expanding its UK network and has moved to new offices in Bedfordshire “a signal of where our focus is” says Joe.

The USA is also providing opportunities with Applegreen just announcing that it is to open two new forecourts in Long Island, New York State.

“We are delighted to announce we have officially opened in the US,” said Joe.

“In March 2013, we commenced negotiations on two service stations in Long Island.  Little did I think back then that it would take 13 months to get the deal over the line.  Last week our CEO, Bob Etchingham and vice-Ppesident of Retail Operations,Trevor Moore did the last of the signing to make these two stations our first venture into the USA.”

The two service stations are about one hours’ drive from JFK International Airport. Long Island has a population of more than eight million, many of whom commute daily into New York City.

Joe added: “Whilst we are growing and expanding, we see Ireland as a launch pad to other countries and we are using our expertise and experience here to grow in other markets.”