Pie’s the limit for buoyant Greggs

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Shoppers refuelling on mince pies and coffee helped bakery chain Greggs yesterday toast an “excellent” 10.8 per cent jump in sales over Christmas and New Year.

The company, which has 1,571 outlets in the UK, said sales excluding the impact of new store openings were up by 5.1 per cent in the five weeks to January 7.

It sold a record seven-and-a-half million mince pies, while sales of its festive bakes lifted 27 per cent and coffee sales increased 21 per cent.

Despite rising food and energy costs, Greggs said competitive market conditions had led to more promotional offers although it does not expect this to impact on its full-year results performance.

For the 2011 financial year as a whole, total sales grew by 5.8 per cent and like-for-like sales by 1.4 per cent.

During the year it opened a record 98 new shops and also completed 170 shop refurbishments.

The expansion created around 800 new jobs and took its headcount above 20,000 for the first time.

Greggs said it expected another year of marginally positive like-for-like sales growth in 2012, while total sales should benefit from the net addition of another 90 shops.

Chief executive Ken McMeikan added: “We anticipate that the tough trading environment will continue during 2012, with consumers’ disposable incomes remaining under pressure.

“We will therefore continue to focus on maximising our customer appeal through product innovation and strong promotional activity.”