herald

Thursday 17 October 2019

Applegreen outlet to stay closed for deep clean after video of rat in bread

The rat has failed to affect the company’s share price
The rat has failed to affect the company’s share price

Applegreen chiefs say the Dublin outlet where a rat was filmed climbing out of a loaf of Brennan's bread will remain shut until a deep clean and rodent infestation investigation is completed.

Forecourt retailer Applegreen's chief operating officer Joe Barrett said management were shocked on Thursday when footage emerged on social media of the vermin emerging from a sliced-pan wrapper.

It is believed the rodent was spotted at an outlet in Cherry Orchard. Management were "shocked and surprised" and moved to shut the site immediately, Mr Barrett said yesterday.

It followed the announcement by the group of financial results for the first half of the year. The business has robust pest controls and is taking the incident extremely seriously, Mr Barrett said.

"We are not reopening [the site] until we are 100pc happy," he told the Herald.

A video widely circulated on the WhatsApp messaging service apparently showed a rodent in the kitchen area of its shop. In it, the vermin is seen emerging from a rustling bread packet before it moves across a shelf and climbs behind a silver oven.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said it was aware of a video and it had referred the matter to the HSE.

Negative

A statement from the HSE said: "We take all complaints very seriously. An inspection has taken place and the matter is being fully investigated."

But the rat problem appears not to have had much of an impact on the business as a whole.

Applegreen shares were up more than 3pc yesterday, despite the negative publicity.

Revenue across the group increased by 73pc to €1.48bn in the first half of 2019 against the same period a year earlier.

Gross profits in the period were up 145pc to €268m.

The Irish business now operates at home, in the UK and in four US markets.

Revenue increases reflected acquisitions and organic growth, chief executive Bob Etchingham said. The first-half results reflected an "incredible performance", he said.

Initiatives driving sales include a vegan sausage roll introduced this year which has already clocked up an impressive 130,000 sales.

The business has 483 outlets spread across Ireland, the UK and the US.

That is up from 368 sites at the end of the first half of 2018, and the business says it is set for further expansion, including in the US.

Applegreen's expansion has included key partnerships with brands including Burger King, KFC and Starbucks.

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