The chief executive of Applegreen has said he is confident the business can achieve long-term growth, despite any uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and revealed how it is affecting the company in the short term.

Unveiling the group’s results for 2019, Bob Etchingham said: "We are highly conscious of the considerable uncertainty created by the current COVID-19 crisis, but are confident in the defensiveness of our business model and the strength of our balance sheet and liquidity. Therefore, we are positive about navigating the company through this crisis and building our business for the long term."

In the statement with its results, the company said it had traded strongly for the first 10 weeks of 2020, but footfall and volumes had been impacted in the last two weeks. Its stores remain open, but some with significantly reduced food franchise offerings.

It added: "We expect a material reduction in profitability for the current financial year. The scale of this will be dependent on how the situation develops and over what timeframe, together with the impact of any further measures taken by national governments to mitigate the disruption."

Accordingly, it added that previously published market expectations should be disregarded.