Maxol wants forecourt size restrictions relaxed

Maxol wants forecourt size restrictions relaxed

Family-owned fuel group Maxol is lobbying for a change in retail planning rules to allow for bigger forecourt shops.

The move comes as the firm looks toward a future where petrol and diesel sales make up an increasingly smaller portion of its revenue.

Retail floorspace of forecourts in the Republic is currently limited to 100 sqm while there is no such cap in Northern Ireland.

The 100 sqm limit can only be breached in exceptional circumstances when permitted by a local council.

Maxol chief executive Brian Donaldson said the relevant planning laws haven’t been reviewed since 2012 and insisted they are “very much out of date”.

Maxol, owned by the McMullan family, has 242 outlets across the island of Ireland, including 112 that are company-owned.

Last year, its profit before exceptional items jumped 57% to €27m, as it continued to benefit from the easing of pandemic restrictions and surging numbers of staycationers across the island. The group’s profit after tax was €22.8m. The group posted a €17.8m profit in 2019.

In Northern Ireland, its profit after tax more than doubled last year to £7.6m (€8.7m) from £3.1m.

Mr Donaldson said that Maxol’s forecourts in Northern Ireland are much bigger, giving it more scope in its retail offering.

The group, more than a century old, traditionally focuses on sites in areas close to residential and business areas, rather than on motorways or major roads.

“What we have seen since September is that the double-digit decline has reduced to a single-digit decline,” he said. “Volumes have not fully recovered back to 2019 levels. It is edging closer after a difficult start. That’s probably no surprise because of hybrid working.

“It’s also no surprise because fuel behaviour patterns have changed with the price of fuel. People did and have cut back. But I think what we’ve benefited from is the large business customer sector that we serve through our fuel cards business.”

Maxol is now planning to roll out two electric vehicle charging hubs, in Ballycoolin in Dublin and Newbridge in Co Kildare, as it continues to probe the best service model for consumers.

A dedicated Maxol electric vehicle hub will in December at Kinnegar in Co Down.