Irish forecourt chain Applegreen has announced strong annual results as UK like-for-like store and food sales increased 3.1% in 2015.

The retailer also saw UK revenue up by 18.1% and gross profit rise to £26.8m from £18.0m in 2014, according to Applegreen’s preliminary statement of results for the year ending December 31 2015.

Applegreen also opened seven new forecourt sites in the UK last year including two in the London area, while eight sites in the UK were rebranded and upgraded with more branded food offers. It now owns 61 sites in the UK.

Another key development in 2015 was the opening of the first Motorway Service Area (MSA) in Northern Ireland, north of Belfast.

Bob Etchingham, CEO of Applegreen, said: “In reporting our first full year results as a public company we are very pleased to announce a strong performance in 2015 with growth in both profitability and turnover delivered across each of the Republic of Ireland and the UK. This performance was driven by new site openings in both the latter part of 2014 and early 2015 as well as the increased contribution from food driven by our upgrade and rebranding programme.

“In the UK our site numbers increased by eight including the first Motorway Service Area in Northern Ireland. We also launched two new food offers – Chopstix and Greggs – and increased the number of our food outlets by 29 across the estate.

“We have had a positive start to 2016, adding four service area sites and seven petrol filling stations to the estate and we continue to see good opportunities for green field and bolt-on expansion. Consumer sentiment is strong in both our key markets and we are confident that our distinctive retail offering in the forecourt sector will continue to deliver growth through 2016.”