Bakery chain Greggs has upped its profit guidance and pledged to continue innovating, a week after the launch of its vegan sausage roll caused a stir.
The FTSE 250 firm now expects underlying pre-tax profits for the full 2018 financial year to be at least £88 million, slightly higher than previously guided.
This comes as sales over the 52 weeks to December 29 rose 7.2 per cent, driven by growth in newer categories such as breakfast and vegan-friendly food as well as classic bakes.
Like-for-like sales at company-managed shops were up 2.9 per cent across the year, with the fourth quarter accelerating to 5.2 per cent as customers bought festive bakes and mince pies.
Chief executive Roger Whiteside said that the performance reflected the company’s efforts to target the food-to-go market.
“In the year ahead, we will continue to innovate with products designed to reflect changing consumer tastes, and by opening in new locations that make Greggs even more accessible to customers,” he said.
Last week the announcement that a vegan-friendly sausage roll would be served in Greggs branches drew a flurry of responses online, including comments from Piers Morgan and 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.
Total sales at the bakery chain in the 52 weeks ending December 29 were up 7.2 per cent.
Mr Whiteside said: “This performance was broad-based, reflecting the strength of our range of freshly-prepared food and drinks, and the strategic changes that we have made in recent years to focus more effectively on the food-on-the-go market.”