Greggs to open more stores following profitable 2017

Greggs plans to grow its food-on-the-go brand

"The high street chain has made a series of savvy decisions in the a year ago or so, including the introduction of drive-thru stores and delivery, as well as a healthy food range, and it's clearly paying off, with the brand aiming for a McDonald's style eat here any-time of the day approach rather than its previous lunch-focus", said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex.

The bakery firm opened 131 new shops previous year and closed 41, with 1,854 stores open across the country.

During the year, the business took its estate to 1,854 shops with the opening of 131 new shops, 45 of which were franchised units, and the closure of 41.

It also aims to continue with refurbishments, revamping around 100 shops over 2018.

Greggs said the sales were driven by its "classic favourites" such as sausage rolls, as well as a demand for its festive bakes and mince pies. The retailer has dubbed 2018 as a "record year for investment in our supply chain" and most of the manufacturing platforms will be installed, to provide capacity for further growth.

The Newcastle-based group said like-for-like sales rose 3.7 per cent a year ago, but growth slowed to three per cent in the final three months as it came up against tough comparisons from a strong performance the previous Christmas.

Shares in Greggs were up 2.2% at 1,333.00 pence on Tuesday.

Mr Whiteside said that the chain finished 2017 "well" and expects to report full year results in line with previous expectations.

It said that hot options, such as hot sandwiches and its gluten-free "balanced choice" soup also proved popular, while it launched new drinks including a caramel latte and has plans in the new year to launch, a new focaccia-style pizza.

But he cautioned that cost pressures will continue over 2018, albeit at a slower rate than in 2017.

"In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on delivering the outstanding value and taste that Greggs is famous for", added Whiteside.

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