Bright Energy shutdown won’t derail Maxol’s investment strategy, says CEO Brian Donaldson

Maxol chief executive Brian Donaldson said the family-owned oil company continues to assess investment opportunities and is focused on diversifying away from its core business as part of the global drive to reduce carbon emissions. carbon.

We said two companies Maxol has invested in – Bright Energy and Ecoxpress – fell victim to timing and circumstance, but their recent failure would not stop it from backing other entrepreneurs or established businesses.

“It shows the ambition we have to try different things,” Mr Donaldson told the Irish Independent. “Unfortunately, they didn’t work as we would have liked. But for us as a company, it shows our commitment to seeing how we can scale across different sectors and improve our overall carbon footprint.

“We’ve learned a lot from it and it hasn’t really dampened our enthusiasm in terms of looking for new opportunities outside of our traditional industry,” he added. “It’s like anything in business – if you don’t try, you won’t get the lessons. We are always very determined to try to find the next good opportunity.

Maxol has been owned by the McMullan family for over 100 years.

It has 115 service stations across the island of Ireland. It has 127 additional stations in its dealer network.

In 2020, Maxol achieved gross profit before exceptional items of €17.1 million, down 7.5 pc compared to 2019.

The group had invested more than one million euros in Bright Energy in a 50-50 joint venture with a company owned by Stephen and Ciaran Devine. It was launched in 2020 and was a green electricity supplier to consumers.

Last week, Bright Energy announced its closure as soaring wholesale energy prices made it impossible to continue trading profitably. It is also closing its operations in Northern Ireland.

“Who would have thought that energy prices would have increased by more than 200% since our launch in 2020?” said Mr. Donaldson.

Ecoxpress was only officially launched last July and has been backed by investors such as Maxol, Bobby O’Keeffe and a number of individuals. Mr. O’Keeffe and these other private investors had injected 1.5 million euros. Maxol had injected €3 million.

Mr O’Keeffe, a former Intel executive, led the growth of Fastway’s messaging business in Ireland from 2002.

In 2017, MML Growth Capital Partners – which is backed by AIB and other institutional investors – funded a management buyout of Fastway Ireland which saw the original shareholders leave the company.

Mr O’Keeffe, who was managing director of Fastway, retained a large stake in the delivery company, while MML took about a third stake. Mr O’Keeffe stepped down as a director and CEO in 2018.

Mr Donaldson said Maxol was currently evaluating other investment opportunities for the forecourt retailer.

However, he said he would not focus exclusively on energy sector targets.

“We are keen to continue looking for new opportunities outside of our industry,” he said. “Anything that would be complementary to our core business would certainly interest us.”

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