Greggs is beginning the roll-out of hot self-serve cabinets as it increases the range of hot food options for customers throughout the day.
The high street chain, which now numbers almost 2,000 stores UK-wide, describes hot food as a “key area of development” for the business.
The investment in new catering equipment reflects the fact that hot food could become particularly profitable for it during times of the day when customers don’t fancy cakes or breads.
It revealed it is seeing increasing demand for “quick meal solutions” later in the day when demand for sweet bakery items and cold sandwiches has passed its peak.
Hot sandwiches are available in all its shops and the roll-out of hot self-serve cabinets will support the expansion of new product ranges, including fresh porridge, soups, potato wedges and chicken goujons.
Greggs’ ability to expand beyond traditional bakery items is central to its growth plans as it seeks to build on the £1 billion revenue that it has just reported for 2018.
The company has endeavoured to differentiate itself by freshly preparing food each day in its shops and by offering “outstanding” value for great tasting food-on-the-go.
In its preliminary annual results announcement, CEO Roger Whiteside said: “Over the years we have developed a market-leading reputation in long-established traditional bakery categories adapted to food-on-the-go. Whilst these products remain best sellers, we continue to build a reputation in new areas that create more reasons to visit Greggs, meeting food-on-the-go needs at all times of the day.”
Another area that is proving lucrative for Greggs is breakfast-on-the-go. It is currently the fastest-growing part of its trading day.
It now offers a wide range of breakfast menu options to cater for regular customers seeking variety each day, and awareness is growing as it adds lines such as fruit and yoghurt to its breakfast meal deal.
New products such as fresh porridge and breakfast boxes are also showing good potential as they become available in more shops, Greggs said.
Overall its range of options for customers is widening, with gluten-free and vegan-friendly products added to the Balanced Choice range that offers fewer than 400 calories.
Its range of gluten-free soups, vegan-friendly Mexican bean wrap and vegan-friendly sausage roll have all performed well since their launch.
Greggs has a strong pipeline of new shop openings for 2019 and expects to add at least 100 net new shops in the year, including around 50 with franchise partners. Its target is to reach at ;east 2,500 stores.