July 30 2019 @ 9:10 by Steven Hugill
Baker Greggs has reported increased sales and profits after the introduction of its vegan sausage roll complemented demand for traditional pastry-based products and further new additions to its menu.
The Newcastle-headquartered company saw total sales rise 14.7 per cent to £546 million in the half-year to June 29.
Reported pre-tax profit, including property gains and exceptional charge, stood at £36.7 million, which was up on the £24.1 million recorded in the same period 12 months previously.
Revealing the results today (Tuesday, July 30), bosses said the increases came of the back on “exceptionally strong trading on the successful end to 2018, helped by the popularity of the new vegan-friendly sausage roll.”
They added the firm, founded when John Gregg sold eggs and yeast from his bike to Newcastle families in the 1930s, had also benefited from demand for its Fairtrade coffee, breakfast items and new hot food options.
Chief executive Roger Whiteside said the business, which has almost 2,000 outlets across the UK, was in a strong position, revealing the company’s vegan sausage roll has added extra impetus to its offering.
Mr Whiteside, the former boss of Marks and Spencer’s food halls, also said the firm had enjoyed good demand for its coffee, breakfast porridge and new pizzas.
He said: “We came into 2019 with good sales momentum, which had built progressively through the second half of 2018.
“The launch of the now famous vegan-friendly sausage roll took this to another level, with initial demand significantly outstripping our expectations. The product has remained extremely popular with customers and is now one of our top sellers, demonstrating the demand for greater dietary choice in food-on-the-go.
“Growth in customer visits has in turn driven strong sales across our traditional savoury products and sales of our traditional sweet products continue to benefit from the improved quality delivered by our investment in manufacturing centres of excellence.
“Breakfast-on-the-go remains the fastest-growing element of our trading day, with sales of our freshly-ground Fairtrade coffee now placing us third in the UK out-of-home coffee market. Our breakfast food offer is growing with fresh porridge and hot breakfast boxes becoming available in more shops as we roll out hot food cabinets.
“With increasing demand for convenient meal solutions, we are continuing to develop our offer for later in the day. Our focaccia-style pizzas are growing in popularity (and) hot food options are also being developed with the roll-out of hot food cabinets supporting growing sales of new lines alongside our existing hot sandwich range.
“Trials of extended late opening hours will follow in the autumn.”