UK Markets open in 48 mins

City comment: Roger Whiteside’s recipe for success at Greggs will be tough to beat

·2-min read
A Greggs vegan sausage roll — perhaps Whiteside’s greatest legacy at the baker  (Getty Images)
A Greggs vegan sausage roll — perhaps Whiteside’s greatest legacy at the baker (Getty Images)

Time to raise your vegan sausage roll to Roger Whiteside, who will surely go down as one of the best FTSE CEOs of the last decade.

The Greggs boss today announced plans to hang up his apron after almost nine years in charge.

His time at the helm of the chain has been nothing short of transformational. When Whiteside took over, Greggs was known as a cheap and cheerful, somewhat down-at-heel bakery chain beloved in the North but something of a quirk in the South. He has smartened its image, modernised its menu, and spearheaded a significant expansion to make it a truly national chain. Customers are now as likely to stop in at Greggs for a flat white as they are a steak bake.

Then of course there’s the vegan sausage roll, which was nothing short of sensational when it launched. Rarely has a pastry gone viral on social media in the same way. Finding one in the early days was a struggle.

Then there was the pandemic. Rivals like Pret were battered by shutdowns and forced to rethink their entire business. Not Greggs. Whiteside was talking up further expansion in London while rents were cheap at a time when rivals were shutting down.

How has all this gone down in the City? Just look at the share price - up over 700% since he took the helm. The stock dipped today in mourning for Whiteside.

All this makes Whiteside a tough act to follow. New boss Roisin Currie is an insider who has been there longer even than the departing CEO, which will give investors some comfort. Early indications suggest strategy will be more of the same for now rather than any radical departures.

Still, she may need a (chicken) slice of luck to continue Whiteside’s blazing run of form.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting