Greggs on a roll after jump in first half sales

Greggs today reported a 5.2% jump in like-for-like sales for the 24 weeks to December 13.

Greggs today reported a 5.2% jump in like-for-like sales for the 24 weeks to December 13. - Credit: PA

Pasty and sausage roll maker Greggs served up another profits upgrade today after favourable weather and new ranges helped boost sales.

The group, which has around 1,660 outlets, reported a 5.2% jump in like-for-like sales for the 24 weeks to December 13 as it built on the strong performance seen over the summer.

Profits for the year to January 3 are now set to beat City expectations, the second such upgrade in three months. Its shares rallied by around 4% today and are now up nearly 60% this year.

The improvement follows a drive by chief executive Roger Whiteside to increase focus on the food-on-the-go market, which accounts for 75% of customer visits, rather than traditional take-home business.

It is also benefiting from demand for its new low-fat sandwich ranges and improved coffee blend.

Mr Whiteside said: “Trading conditions have remained helpful but there is no doubt that customers are also responding to improvements in our product and service offer and to the investment we are making in the shop environment.”

He added that the festive season meant there was still “much to play for” over the final few weeks of the financial year.

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Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital Stockbrokers, said Greggs was also benefiting from more benign input costs, particularly in flour, cream and pork and more latterly from oil.

He added: “We believe that credit is also due for Roger Whiteside and his team for the simple but effective improvements that have been brought to the business in product, packaging, merchandising and stores.”