Greggs has confirmed plans to open around 100 new stores across the UK by the end of this year after enjoying a rebound in sales.
The popular high street bakery chain said it has an opportunity to grow to 3,000 stores now that it has returned to profit following a difficult year due to the pandemic.
500 new jobs
Greggs has already opened 48 new stores in the first half of this year, with the remaining branches due to open over the next six months.
Of the most recent shop openings, 70 per cent were based in car-accessed locations such as roadsides, petrol stations, retail parks and supermarkets.
At the start of July, the chain had 2,115 locations and said it is targeting 100 net openings for the current year to continue its strong growth plans.
The swathe of new stores is expected to create around 500 job opportunities in the second half of this year.
The plans to expand come as Greggs said its like-for-like sales for the four weeks to the end of July were 0.4 per cent above the levels it saw in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic struck.
Now the chain expects full-year profits to be “slightly ahead” of previous predictions.
A strong recovery
Greggs told investors that the recovery in trade over recent months has been “stronger than anticipated”, with sales particularly high in suburban areas and local high streets.
The chain has also boosted its delivery and drive-thru services, with home delivery now available from 837 branches.
The new openings earlier this year have also helped to boost its total sales over six months to June a total of £546.2 million. This is just short of the £546.3 million sales it posted in the same period in 2019.
Greggs also saw like-for-like sales drop by 9.2 per cent against 2019 due to the impact of the third national lockdown. However, this was lifted by the opening of 48 new stores in the first half of the year.
The business has now highlighted even more ambitious plans to boost its growth, saying it “has the opportunity to expand its UK estate to at least 3,000 shops”.
Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs, 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.
“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.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.