Applegreen Focuses on Strengthening Its Brand & Store Network in the U.S.
DUBLIN — It was multiple visits to the United States over several years and becoming members of NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, which inspired Applegreen plc CEO Bob Etchingham and Chief Operating Officer Joe Barrett to look at the U.S. for potential innovation.
The first Applegreen service station opened in 1992 in Ballyfermot, West Dublin, paving the way for the brand to effectively stronghold the Emerald Isle and United Kingdom.
Then, an opportunity arose to lease a couple of sites in Long Island, N.Y., in 2014. With no language barriers and a great history of friendship between Ireland and America, all signs were a go for Applegreen to enter the U.S. market.
Growing through a combination of new builds and predominantly acquisitions, Applegreen has expanded its U.S. presence to approximately 121 stores across Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont — a significant and strategic jump from the five sites in had in 2015.
“Applegreen is a food retailer that sells fuel, so we look at customer traffic volumes and opportunities in the food-to-go market. Therefore, we aim to locate ourselves in busy urban or interstate locations,” Barrett told Convenience Store News.
In the U.S., Applegreen has set its sights on delivering on three core promises:
- Low fuel prices always.
- Better value always.
- A high-quality food-to-go offering.
Currently, Applegreen operates under three store models: smaller petrol filling stations, which range in size from 2,000 square feet to 3,000 square feet; and truck road service areas and motorway service areas that range from 6,000 square feet to as large as 20,000 square feet. In the U.S., Applegreen c-stores average up to roughly 6,000 square feet.
The architecture of Applegreen buildings are designed to be simple yet striking, and to purposefully communicate the food and retail offerings. The retailer creates light, warm, inviting and comfortable areas that allow customers to relax while surrounded by natural materials, according to Barrett.
Looking ahead, Applegreen sees continued expansion in the U.S. to be slow and steady.
“For the first few years, our focus was to learn the market and to build our supporting infrastructure stateside. Now, with that, we are much more established. We are in a mode of seeking opportunities for partnerships and growth,” said Barrett.
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