The number of Greggs stores operating in the UK grew to 1,730 during the first half of the year as the bakery chain completed 68 launches, including 31 franchise units.
The net gain was smaller than it looks as the company also closed 36 shops in the same period, but it takes nothing away from Greggs’ overall appetite for expanding its estate.
The company also continues to invest in the transformation of its shop estate and completed 86 refurbishments to its latest ‘bakery food-on-the-go’ format as part of its current strategy. Over the year as a whole the company said it plans to update around 200 shops.
Bosses at the firm hailed a “strong pipeline” of openings, weighted towards the end of the second half, and now expect to open around 70 net new shops by the end of the year.
Their outlook came as the firm revealed that sales increased 6% to £422m in the first six months, while operating profits rose 7% to £27m.
Chief executive, Roger Whiteside, said the forecasts were looking good: “We have made an encouraging start to the second half of the year and are alert to any change in consumer demand that may result from the current economic uncertainty. Overall, we expect to deliver full-year growth in line with our previous expectations as well as further progress against our strategic plan.”
Greggs said that its plans to invest in the transformation and development of its supply chain are also progressing well. It expects that a new distribution facility in Enfield will be operational in October, allowing it to complete the closure of its existing Twickenham bakery in the fourth quarter as planned.
In addition, planning permission has been secured for the extension of its Clydesmill bakery in Glasgow, which will enable it to close its Edinburgh bakery during the second quarter of 2017. It is now planning the next phase of investment in its remaining sites, which will increase logistics capacity and consolidate manufacturing, with benefits in product quality, consistency and efficiency.