Greggs says sales improving after drop in profits

Bakery chain Greggs today revealed a 19 per cent plunge in annual profits but said its sales were improving as it continues its new strategy of focusing on the “food-to-go” market.

The firm, which has scrapped plans to open a chain of cafes and sell its products in supermarkets, said pre-tax profits fell to £41.3 million in the year to 28 December, down from £50.9m a year earlier, as costs related to the change in strategy offset a 3.8 rise in total sales to £762.4m.

Chief executive Roger Whiteside said like-for-like sales at the baker, which ended the year with 1,671 outlets, were improving after a 0.8 per cent decline in 2013.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In the first eights weeks of its new financial year, takings were up 2.1 per cent on a year earlier, although Whiteside acknowledged that sales in January 2013 were hit by snow.

He added: “2014 will be a year of further change for Greggs as we move forward with our new strategy to focus on the food-on-the-go market.

“Market conditions are expected to remain challenging but I am encouraged by the improvement seen in our like-for-like sales in recent months.”

Greggs proposed holding its final dividend at 13.5p a share, to be paid on 9 May.