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Applegreen (APGN) has upped its exposure to the key strategic market of the North East of the US with the conditional acquisition of a 40% holding in 23 highway services plazas in Connecticut for about $37.6m.

A call option agreement will enable Applegreen to increase its stake in CT Service Plazas to 60% and take majority control if exercised.

The plazas offer fuel, quick-service food and drink, retail, restroom and other facilities. They operate 24 hours, 7 days a week.

About 91% of revenue generated is from long-term anchor tenants including McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway and Alliance Energy.

The deal sees Applegreen enter a consortium shareholder agreement with IST3 and TD Greystone as manager for and on behalf of the Greystone Infrastructure Fund. which will see the consortium acquire JLIF Holdings and its Project Services subsidiary which operates the plazas.

The 23 service plazas benefit from exclusive rights along the I-95, I-395 and Route 15 highways in the state of Connecticut granted under a long-term concession agreement with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDT).

The transaction supports Applegreen’s strategic objective of growth in North America and continues to develop its stated ambition of reducing fuel dependency through adding significant food and beverage operations.

The acquisition is subject to approval from the CDT.

Bob Etchingham, chief executive, said: “This transaction represents a rare opportunity to acquire a high profile service plaza concession project in one of our core regions in the United States, significantly increasing our market presence in the North East and positioning the company for further growth in this key strategic market.”

Morning update

Ahold Delhaize (AD) has posted its second-quarter results which saw net sales climb 1.5% at constant exchange rates to €16.3m, constrained by a strike at Stop & Shop.

Frans Muller, president and chief executive, said: “Although our results were impacted by the strike at Stop & Shop, our other US brands continued their strong performance.

“As we continue to see sales performance improve at Stop & Shop, we expect no significant impact from the strike in the second half of the year.”

US comparable sales excluding gasoline edged 0.2% higher during the quarter, with the strike impact offset by the strong performance of its other brands, in particular Food Lion.

“Excluding the impact from the strike and subsequent period of sales recovery and the favourable timing of Easter, comparable sales excluding gasoline were up 2.3%.” said Muller.

The online business in the US grew 14.4%, or 18% excluding the adverse impact of the strike, and he said the group remained confident it could achieve more than 20% growth in US online sales in 2019.

The Netherlands’ performance remained “solid”, with 3.1% comparable sales growth, adjusted for Easter. Net consumer online sales were up 34.4%, with, “the most successful online retail platform in the Benelux”, growing net consumer sales by 37.5%.

Comparable sales in Belgium were slightly below last year, but underlying operating margins further improved on 2018. In Central and South-eastern Europe, the sales performance in Greece improved over previous quarters.

“During the quarter, we continued to make steady progress on the execution of our Leading Together strategy. We started the rollout of our Re-imagine Stop & Shop program on Long Island, implementing learnings from the Hartford, Connecticut, stores we remodelled last year,” said Muller.

“We also launched various fresh food initiatives across the businesses in both the US and Europe, providing healthy and convenient meal solutions for our customers.”

On the markets this morning the FTSE 100 was fairly flat at around 7,171pts in early trading.

Shares on the up included McColl’s Retail Group (MCLS), up 2.1% to 66.9p, Coca Cola HBC AG, up 1% to 2,795p, Greencore Group (GNC), up almost 1% to 209.2p, Cranswick (CWC) up 0.8% to 2,626p and Compass Group (CPG), up 0.8% to 2,015p.

Fallers so far today include McBride (MCB), down 2.8% at 65.9p, Devro (DVO), off 2.4% at 201p, Hotel Chocolat Group (HOTC), down 1.3% to 367.6p and Imperial Brands (IMB), down 0.4% to 2,038p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 closed down 0.7% yesterday at 7,171.7pts as global trade concerns continue to hit the market.

Fallers included Nichols (NICL), off 2.8% at 1,750p, Fevertree Drinks (FEVR), off 1.4% at 2,260p, Ocado Group (OCDO) fell 1.4% to 1,136,5p and Greggs closed down 1.1% at 2,108p.

Stocks on the up were more plentiful than on Monday, with McBride (MCB) putting on a 5.6% spurt to 67.8p. PureCircle (PURE) climbed 3.8% to £274.5p, SSP Group (SSPG), 1.3% to 702p, Just Eat (JE), 1.1% to 739.4p and McColl’s Retail Group (MCLS), 0.8% to 65.5p.

In the US, milk and dairy products seller Dean Foods’ new president and chief executive, Eric Beringause, is taking a fresh look at the direction of the business just one week into the role.

The news came with the announcement a second-quarter operating income loss (GAAP) of $52m in the three months to the end of June, compared with $41m last time.

Income loss from continuing operations (GAAP), widened from $42m to $65m. Net sales fell from nearly $2bn to $1.8bn.

Beringause said: “Since stepping into the role last week, I am taking a fresh look at the direction of the business. I am committed to thoroughly and swiftly evaluating every aspect of the company and its operations.

“I look forward to working closely with our talented team as we consider new ways to drive Dean Foods forward to profitable growth.”

Foodservice distributor US Foods posted second quarter fiscal adjusted EBITDA up 6.7% to $320m on net sales up 4.6% to $6.4bn

Pietro Satriano, chairman and chief executive, said the business performance continued to improve.

“Total case growth also improved, thanks to strong performance with independent restaurants and improved growth with healthcare and hospitality customers.

“Our service platform continues to get stronger and we are confident in achieving our financial guidance for the year,” Satriano said.

New York-based meal delivery company Blue Apron Holdings improved its net loss position by 76% in the second quarter to $7.7m compared with a loss of $38.2m in the same period last year.

Adjusted EBITDA improved from $4.5m in the second quarter from an adjusted EBITDA loss of $17.5m. Net revenue decreased 34% to $119.2m as the company deliberately reduced marketing spend while focusing on marketing efficiency and targeting “high affinity” consumers.

Nivea owner Beiersdorf generated organic sales growth of 4.8% in the first six months of the year.

Sales rose 6.2% in nominal terms, from €3.6bn to €3.8bn. The group achieved earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) and special factors of €593m (previous year: €585m).

Organic sales in the Europe region grew by 2.8%. At €1.6bn, nominal sales were up 2.9% on the previous year (€1.5bn).