Ireland’s largest petrol station operator Applegreen PLC has acquired a 51% shareholding in motorway service business Welcome Break.
As a result of the transaction, Robbie Bell, chief executive of Welcome Break, will leave the business on 31 December 2018. Bell, previously chief financial officer of the group, was only appointed as chief executive in June following the departure of Rod McKie, who left to join restaurant group Sticks ‘n’ Sushi as chief executive.
John Diviney, managing director of Applegreen’s UK operations, will now take over management responsibility for the 35 Welcome Break sites, reporting to Joe Barrett as chief operating officer of the group.
Bob Etchingham, chief executive of Applegreen, said: “We are grateful to Robbie for his support during the transaction process. He has been instrumental in providing continuity and stability to the Welcome Break business throughout this period. We wish him well with his future career and acknowledge his progressive leadership and change management abilities.”
Bell added: “The Welcome Break team should be proud of the business they have helped to build over many years. I look forward to seeing the business achieve further success under an ownership that has years of experience in the sector.”
In May 2017, Welcome Break announced that it had secured £440m worth of funding with Lloyds Bank to enable the group to expand and revitalise its hotel and retail offering.
Founded in 1959, Welcome Break recently reported a 6.9% increase in annual turnover to £723.4m for the 12 months to 30 January 2018, with a pre-tax profit of £8.3m. The company operates partnerships with numerous restaurant brands including Burger King, Starbucks, Pret a Manger and Tossed, as well as with 29 hotels.