MRH Norwich

Forecourt operator MRH (GB) has vowed its aggressive acquisition strategy will not change after being snapped up by US private equity fund Lone Star in January.

The strategic report in MRH’s newly published annual accounts says the group is “well placed to make further strategic acquisitions” after a “robust” set of financial results.

MRH has swelled its estate to more than 450 sites, mostly branded BP, Esso and Torq, including picking up 78 sites from Esso during 2015.

At the end of its financial year, to 27 September 2015, MRH had increased its estate to 408 outlets from 372 and has brought more sites online since year-end.

These new sites helped boost pre-tax profits by 26.9% in the year to £41.3m and EBITDA, excluding exceptional items, was up 23% to £62.9m.

The profitability growth came despite revenues remaining flat, down 0.1% to £1.79bn, which was primarily due to the plunge in the global oil price and resultant deflation at the pumps.

MRH said retail pump prices fell by 18% during its financial year, which negated a small increase in demand for fuel and rising sales volumes in the UK.

During the financial year the group’s property portfolio increased in value by 38% to £554m and net assets grew by 43% to £382m.

The report stated: “The business will continue to generate significant levels of cash to be reinvested in the business… The group will retain its existing nature and focus by maintaining its strategy of profitable acquisition where opportunities present themselves as well as pursuing organic growth.”

MRH, which was previously 38%-owned by Equistone Partners Europe, was sold to US private equity firm Lone Star in January 2016 in a deal thought to value it at over £1bn.

The group had been in the number one position in The Grocer’s Top 50 Independent Retailers 2015 before the Lone Star deal.

Since the acquisition MRH has announced the appointment of former ExxonMobil executive Karen Dickens as chief executive taking over from founder Graham Peacock, who held more than 20% of the firm before this year’s buyout.