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Petrol forecourt retailer Applegreen (APGN) has made a “positive” start to 2017 as growing UK food sales is driving growth across its expanding estate.

The Ireland-based service station group said it had made a “positive start to the 2017 financial year both in terms of trading and the development of the business”.

It said its business in Ireland is delivering “strong growth” in non-fuel sales, while fuel margin experience has been in line with 2016.

In the UK Applegreen said it continues to “enjoy good growth in UK food sales as we expand our branded food offering”.

Overall the trading performance of the business for the first four months of the year has been in line with the board’s expectations.

Since 31 December 2016 it has added 16 sites to its estate. In the Republic of Ireland it has added four new petrol filling stations (PFS), one new service area and five dealer sites. In the UK it has opened three new PFS and a motorway service area in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

“Our pipeline of new PFS continues to be strong in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK,” Applegreen said.

It has also opened two new PFS sites in the New England area of the USA and has “made very good progress in generating further opportunities to grow in that region”.

Applegreen added: “The pipeline of service areas continues to develop in both Ireland and the UK. We have a significant number of prospects in both core markets at various stages of the planning process and are confident of further expanding our businesses in each territory.”

Overall Applegreen said the board is “very satisfied” with the performance of the business in the first four months of the year.

It also announced it intends to pay its first shareholder dividend of 1.25c per share in June 201 due to its financial performance since its IPO.

Morning update

It’s a quiet start to the week on the markets this morning.

The major grocery news over the Bank Holiday weekend was the story that broke on Friday that Sainsbury’s could be weighing up a bid for Palmer & Harvey (see this morning’s Media Bites). There have been no new developments on the fate of P&H since those initial reports, with tobacco firms and P&H creditors Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International still thought to be in pole position to strike a deal.

One piece of the news this morning is that listed sports nutrition group Science in Sport (SIS) has received a certificate of grant of patent for its WHEY20 product. SIS launched its novel WHEY20 protein gel in January 2016, which helps athletes’ maintain muscle mass and can also promote muscle growth. Sales of WHEY20 have been ahead of forecast in the first year and this year sees a relaunch with two new flavours.

SIS chief executive Stephen Moon commented: “Science and innovation underpins everything we do and we are delighted to continue to be at the cutting edge of developments in sports science and the manufacturing process of products, whilst building a portfolio of patents. We have a very strong innovation pipeline for 2017 onwards, continuing to work on further innovation to fuel professional athletes and sports enthusiasts.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has slipped 0.4% to 7,516pts.

Science in Sport has jumped 4.7% to 90p this morning on the back of the news of its new patent.

The tobacco firms have started the week poorly, with British American Tobacco (BATS), down 2% to 5,478p, Imperial Brands (IMB), down 1.4% to 3,630p.

Other fallers include Nichols (NCLS), down 1.8% to 1,791p, John Menzies (MNZS), down 1.6% to 700.5p and CARR;s Group (CARR), down 1.5% to 138.4p.

Early risers include Glanbia (GLB), up 2.7% to €18, Total Produce (TOT), up 1.8% to 176.7p and Finsbury Food Group (FIF), up 1.1% to 118.3p.

The week in the City

There are few market announcements of note in the calendar this week given the short four-day week as we enter June.

The two major items of note this week are the appearance of three Tesco (TSCO) execs in court in relation to its 2014 profits overstatement today and tomorrow’s Reckitt Benckiser (RB) shareholder meeting to vote on its US$16.7bn takeover of Mead Johnson (MJN).

Former Tesco finance director Carl Rogberg, ex-UK MD Chris Bush and former UK food commercial director will appear at Southwark crown court today ina plea and trial preparation hearing. Charges related to “dishonestly falsifying digital accounting records” linked to Tesco’s £263m profits overstatement that emerged in 2014.

Reckitt shareholders are expected to rubber stamp the deal for baby milk supplier Mead Johnson at a shareholder meeting tomorrow. Reckitt agreed the $16.7bn deal, which would grow its footprint in infant nutrition and China, in February. Mead Johnson’s shareholders will also vote on the deal on Wednesday in Chicago.

Elsewhere, AG Barr (BAG) holds its AGM today, while it’s the Wal-Mart AGM in the US on Friday, which will include a Q&A session with the investment community.

In economic news, official UK consumer credit figures come out later this morning along with industry data on mortgage approvals. The monthly PMI construction survey is out on Friday.