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Greggs sales to surge higher as vegan range proves recipe for success

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

High street baker Greggs is set to post its latest set of stellar results as it continues to ride high on the back of the success of its vegan range.

Shares in the retailer were a whisker away from an all-time high this week before market fears pressed down on the company, during one of the FTSE’s worst weeks since the financial crash.

Nevertheless, the past 18 months has been a purple patch for the business, with its shares doubling in value over the period despite wider uncertainty in the retail sector.

Declining high street footfall and sky-high business rates have continued to weigh on UK retailers over the past year.

However, Greggs is set to deliver higher profits and soaring sales for 2019 when it announces its results on Tuesday.

Last month, it said it expected to post 13.5% sales growth for the year to December 2019, accelerating from an already strong 7.2% growth in the previous year.

While this figure has been significantly boosted by the company’s continued expansion – which saw it increase its portfolio by 97 stores during the year – it was primarily driven by higher takings per store.

Greggs’ new vegan steak bake (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Greggs said it saw like-for-like sales shoot up by 9.2%, from 2.9% like-for-like growth in the previous year.

Customers increasingly visited stores for its traditional ranges but the company has also grown its customer base through new ranges.

Its vegan sausage rolls have seen sales continue to surge, leading the firm to recently launch its first vegan steak bake and vegan doughnut to continue to capitalise on this growing segment of the market.

Greggs has previously said it will continue to evolve its range to embrace a broader variety of dietary choices, fulfilling the need of modern customers whose demands are not always satisfied by fast food retailers.

The bakery chain’s success has not just benefited its City investors – staff will also get a major windfall as a result.

In January, the company said each employee would receive around £300 as part of a £7 million payment shared across all staff to mark the “phenomenal year”.

Nevertheless, consumer uncertainty continues to weigh on retailers and poor weather at the start of the year poses another challenge for the business.