Roisin Currie, the CEO of Greggs, has declared that Britain is far from reaching "peak Greggs" as the popular bakery chain unveils plans to open 160 additional stores, driven by robust Christmas sales.
Greggs, renowned for its iconic sausage rolls and steak bakes, has reported a remarkable 9.4% increase in like-for-like sales for the final quarter ending on December 30th. This surge in performance has attracted substantial investor interest, elevating the company's shares by 5.2% to £26.02 and positioning it at the top of the FTSE 250 leaderboard.
The strong demand for seasonal offerings, including over 8.8 million mince pies and 4.3 million "festive bakes," along with fewer transportation disruptions and favourable weather conditions compared to the previous year, have contributed significantly to this growth.
Greggs' total annual sales have surged by 19.6% to reach £1.8 billion, primarily driven by a record number of store openings, with a net increase of 145 in the past year. Greggs strategically targeted retail parks and travel hubs, aligning with its expansion plans. The company, often considered a barometer for the broader retail sector's health, anticipates opening between 140 and 160 net new stores in the upcoming year, a slight deviation from the earlier projection of around 150.
Moreover, Greggs plans to extend its evening opening hours in approximately 1,200 locations across its stores. Roisin Currie emphasised that there is substantial room for growth, stating that there is potential for "significantly more than 3,000 shops."
Greggs, established in 1939 by John Gregg in Tyneside, currently operates 2,473 stores, of which approximately 1,970 are company-managed, and over 503 are franchised. The brand has also ventured into the café market with "Tasty by Greggs" establishments in Primark stores and introduced a line of branded clothing.
The ongoing cost of living crisis has buoyed the company's performance as consumers seek more affordable dining options. While Roisin Currie acknowledges that customers have become more discerning with their spending, she doesn't anticipate further price increases due to easing cost inflation in sectors such as food and energy. However, she expects it will be some time before the market sees deflation, given the rising wage bills retailers face due to increases in the national living wage. Nonetheless, higher wages are seen as positive for consumers, as it puts more money in their pockets.