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Greggs suffers £65m first half loss but says sales have returned to 70% of last year’s level

Greggs store

Greggs suffered a pre-tax loss of £65m during the first half of the year as most of its shops remained closed through the second quarter.

The loss – down from a £36.7m profit in the same six-month period – underlines the scale of the impact that lockdown has had on the business.

The chain, which operates more than 2,000 stores, said sales slowed from £546.3m to £300.6m in the first half of the year as the pandemic took hold.

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However, it claims there are positive signs as its shops reopen, with sales increasing to 72% of their usual amount last week.

CEO Roger Whiteside said: “Following successive years of unbroken growth Greggs made a great start to 2020, coming into the year with momentum and clear strategic plans.

“The strength of our business model enabled us to secure the liquidity needed to support our business through the current crisis and then to adapt our operation and strategic investment plans in response to the new environment.”

Mr Whiteside said that whilst these are “early days”, Greggs is already showing that the variety and geographical reach of its shop estate, combined with the broad appeal of the brand, which is not materially dependent on office-based workers, means it is less impacted by social distancing than many.

“The majority of our shops are located in towns and suburbs, or catchments that are generally accessed by car. However, we still expect sales to remain below normal for as long as social distancing is required,” he said.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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