United Kingdom

Covid UK: Greggs will open 41 new branches by end of 2021 with 500 jobs

Sausage roll stalwart Greggs is to open another 41 new branches by the end of 2021 under plans that will create 500 new jobs after the bakery chain announced pre-tax profits of £55.5million for this year.

The Newcastle-based high street bakery, which has 2,115 stores, said the business had swung from a loss to a profit after the Covid lockdown was eased and they were given the green light to trade properly.

In interim results published today, bosses announced that 48 new branches opened in the first half of this year, though 11 were shut down for good. Greggs said it anticipates 100 net new shop openings in 2021.

The figures were for the 26 weeks to July 3, compared with a £65.2million loss for the same period last year while Greggs was hamstrung by restrictions on trade and Government stay-at-home orders.

Bosses now expect full-year profits to be 'slightly ahead' of previous predictions after making gains against pre-Covid levels.

Sausage roll stalwart Greggs is to open another 41 new branches by the end of 2021 under plans that will create 500 new jobs after the bakery chain announced pre-tax profits of £55.5million for this year 

An employee wearing PPE including a mask and visor serves at the counter of a Greggs bakery in London on June 18, 2020

The group saw like-for-like sales drop 9.2 per cent against 2019 after the impact of the third national lockdown but it was lifted by the opening of 48 new sites. 

MailOnline has contacted Greggs for further information. 

CEO Roger Whiteside said: 'Greggs once again showed its resilience in a challenging first half, emerging from the lockdown months in a strong position and rebuilding sales as social restrictions were progressively relaxed. 

'We continue to make good progress with our strategic priorities, growing the shop estate and investing in our digital capabilities to compete in all channels and dayparts of our market. 

'Whilst there continue to be general uncertainties in the market, given our recent performance we now expect full year profit to be slightly ahead of our previous expectation.'

Greggs said it has returned the money it received from the Government through the furlough scheme and has re-instated its dividend to shareholders.

Chris Daly, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said: 'Throughout the pandemic, we've seen Greggs work hard to adapt its services and operations to keep up with the changing consumer habits and these interim results show its hard work is now paying off.

'Innovations like offering a click and collect service, and a partnership with Just Eat, have made it easier for consumers to continue buying Greggs' products even throughout lockdown. 

'Last week's announcement of the new vegan sausage, bean and cheese melt also created a stir of excitement, which will no doubt entice customers to re-enter stores when it hits the shelves. 

The Newcastle-based high street bakery, which has 2,115 stores, said the business had swung from a loss to a profit after the Covid lockdown was eased and they were given the green light to trade properly 

'Greggs' two-pronged focus on digital innovations, coupled with releasing in-demand products, has allowed it to keep high street and online shoppers at its fingertips and bounceback following a difficult year.'

In March, Greggs bosses reported a pre-tax loss of £13.7million for 2020, compared with a £108.3 million profit a year earlier. Sales fell by £300million during the pandemic, from £1.17billion to £811.3million.

Greggs stores across England remained open for takeaways during lockdowns, as they are classed as essential retailers. But city centre locations and travel hub sites saw substantial falls due to the stay-at-home orders.

Delivery services and a partnership with Just Eat helped offset some of the falls, the company said, with 9.6 per cent of total sales in the first ten weeks of 2021 now coming via deliveries.

But the latest lockdowns and restrictions since the start of the year hit overall sales, the company said, with like-for-like sales down 28.8 per cent in the 10 weeks to March 13.  

The company said the results for 2020 were slightly better than expected, considering the lockdowns, adding that it benefited from the furlough scheme and business rates holiday.

Bosses added they have access to a new £100million revolving credit facility to fund further expansion beyond the 2,078 stores in operation.

Greggs listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1984 and had never previously reported a loss since becoming a public company.

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