Baker Greggs targets teatime and evening markets to maintain growth momentum

October 1, 2019 @ 7:51 by Steven Hugill

A baker founded on the streets of Newcastle is making its move into the teatime and evening markets.

Greggs is progressing trials to open a number of shops later into the evening.

The business is also pushing ahead with plans to introduce a delivery service and has raised the prospect of further expansion in the South as it builds a new Wiltshire distribution hub.

Bosses at the Newcastle-headquartered company, founded in the 1930s when John Gregg sold eggs and yeast to Newcastle families from his bicycle, confirmed their intentions today (Tuesday, October 1) after unveiling the business’ latest financial results.

According to its figures, Greggs’ total sales increased 12.4 per cent in the 13 weeks to September 28, with company-managed shop like-for-like sales rising 7.4 per cent in the same period.

Total sales for the nine months to September 28 were up 13.9 per cent, with company-managed shop like-for-like sales 9.4 per cent better off.

Roger Whiteside, chief executive, said the baker, which earlier this year told North East Times it aims to open more drive-thru sites after strong initial demand, has made solid progress during the year.

He also confirmed its intention to trial later opening hours to attract customers beyond its traditional catchment.

He said: “We continued to trade very strongly in the third quarter.

“As expected, the rate of year-on-year sales growth moderated as we came up against stronger comparative sales from the previous year, but sales were still up strongly, driven predominantly by growth in customer numbers.

“We are progressing trials to open a number of shops later into the evening, supported by an extended range of great value ‘post-4pm’ deals.

“We are (also) encouraged by customer demand for our delivery service trials and are developing the operational processes to service this channel.”

Roger, the former boss of Marks and Spencer’s food halls, also revealed Greggs, which opened its 2000th shop at South Shields Interchange in August, is continuing to plan for Brexit by stockpiling its pantry.

He added work on its new Wiltshire distribution centre is progressing well.

He said: “We are preparing for the potential impact of the UK’s departure from the European Union by building stocks of key ingredients and equipment that could be affected by disruption to the flow of goods into the UK.

“Overall input cost inflation is in line with our previous guidance to the end of the year, with pressures on both labour and food input costs.

“Operational cost control has been good, and we are progressing selective investments in the strategic initiatives that we expect to deliver an even stronger customer proposition and further growth in the years ahead.

“We are making good progress with the construction of our new southern distribution centre and will be commissioning operations in the final months of this year.

“It will provide additional capacity to reach 250 new and existing shops and provide scope for further future expansion of our estate in the South.” 

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