Vegan sausage roll helps Greggs lift its full year profit outlook

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The launch of a controversial vegan sausage roll has helped bakery chain Greggs lift its full-year profit outlook after driving a surge in customers through its doors.

The group - which also recently increased profit expectations for 2018 - said trading had been boosted by “extensive publicity” surrounding the launch of the new savoury product at the start of January.

Greggs has lifted its full year profit outlook. Picture: PA.

Greggs has lifted its full year profit outlook. Picture: PA.

It cheered an “exceptionally strong” start to 2019 as the stir caused by the launch of the snack saw a jump in customer transactions.

The group posted a 9.6% rise in like-for-like sales for the seven weeks to February 16, while total sales lifted 14.1%.

This compares with a 2.9% hike in like-for-like sales a year earlier, when trading was hit by extreme weather.

Greggs said: “The rate of growth has eased slightly in February but the strength of trading is likely to have a material impact on the first-half result for 2019.”

It added: “Overall the board now anticipates that 2019 full-year underlying profit before tax (excluding exceptional charges) is likely to be ahead of its previous expectations.”

January’s news that Greggs was to sell a vegan-friendly sausage roll drew a flurry of responses online, including comments from Good Morning Britain TV host Piers Morgan and comedian Ricky Gervais.

Greggs sells 1.5 million sausage rolls a week but created the new option due to public demand after an online petition by Peta, calling for a vegan version, was signed by more than 20,000 people last year.