Greggs sees last-minute festive surge

BAKERY chain Greggs said sales jumped almost 20 per cent before Christmas as shoppers refuelled at its stores during a last-minute rush to the high street.

The snow disrupted shopping patterns in the earlier part of December but Greggs said the record Christmas week meant sales were still higher in the five weeks to January 8 - up 0.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 3.5 per cent overall. Total sales in Christmas week were up 19.6 per cent and by 16 per cent at a same-store level.

"The last minute rush by many shoppers, combined with a more favourable trading pattern where Christmas fell on Saturday, drove strong sales," it said.

Greggs reported a a 26 per cent increase in sales of coffee over the Christmas trading period, while it sold more than eight million mince pies between November and the end of the year after a 19 per cent increase in the five-week period.

Despite the impact of the snow, Greggs said it remained on track to deliver profits in line with City forecasts and added that it was well positioned to make further progress in 2011.

The chain, which traded from 1,487 shops on New Year's Day, plans to open around 80 net new shops, creating more than 700 new jobs.

Chief executive Ken McMeikan paid tribute to staff for the record Christmas week and for opening 19 new shops in December despite the snow.

He added: "I can't speak highly enough about our people both for the smooth handling of our expansion programme and for the remarkable dedication that they have shown in keeping our shops open and our supply chain functioning during the exceptionally bad weather during November and December."