Applegreen's UK business to reopen food chains next month

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The UK business of Irish forecourt and motorway service station group Applegreen is to reopen more of its offerings next month as Britain continues to loosen its Covid-19 restrictions.

Welcome Break – of which Applegreen owns a controlling 51% stake with an option to buy more – said it plans to reopen an additional 40 food and beverage units across its 26 UK motorway service areas by June 4. 

It will mean 72 Starbucks, KFC and/or Burger King units within Welcome Break have reopened, following the recent reopening of 32 units in 18 outlets.

Welcome Break had been open on a limited basis, mainly through its fuel forecourts which were listed as essential services. 

It said it has reconfigured its in-store layouts to meet social distancing guidelines and has been further “stepping up” its hygiene and cleaning processes.

Earlier this month, Applegreen reiterated its guidance for lower group profits this year and said its biggest hit has been to the Welcome Break division, which has seen the highest rate of cash burn in the group. 

Applegreen – which has continued to remain open in Ireland, due to being classed as an essential service provider – also said it was in refinancing talks with lenders with regard to the Welcome Break operations.

Meanwhile, Premier Inn owner Whitbread intends to raise £1.01bn (€1.1bn) through a rights issue as the company looks to bolster its balance sheet amid the coronavirus crisis, which led to a drop in annual earnings.

Through the rights issue, Whitbread is proposing to offer one new share for every two existing shares.

The company said adjusted pre-tax profit dropped to £358m for the year to the end of February from £390m a year earlier.

Whitbread, which suspended its dividend and shut all its hotels and restaurants in March due to the outbreak, said it has reopened 16 hotels in Germany.

It also expects hotels and restaurants in the UK to remain closed or operate at low occupancy levels until September.

“Demand recovery is expected to be slow as social distancing restrictions are gradually relaxed,” the company said.

Additional reporting Reuters

Source: Business News