Following a rebound in sales after a difficult year during the pandemic, Greggs has said it now has an opportunity to grow to 3,000 stores and is seeking out more “easily accessible” venues for people to grab their favourite baked treat from.
It has already opened 48 new stores in the first half of this year, with the remaining branches due to open over the next six months.
Of the most recent shop openings, 70 per cent were based in car-accessed locations such as roadsides, petrol stations, retail parks and supermarkets.
Roger Whiteside, chief executive, wrote in a company report released this week: "The strongest locations continue to be shops typically accessed by car.
"The strongest-performing parts of the estate are also the locations where we see significant potential for further expansion, making Greggs accessible to more customers on-the-go."
At the start of July the chain had 2,115 locations and said it is targeting 100 net openings for the current year to continue its strong growth plans.
Although it has not yet confirmed where the new stores will be, there is hope that areas around big cities like Sheffield will be included in the list.
The swathe of new stores is expected to create around 500 job opportunities in the second half of this year.
The plans to expand come as Greggs said its like-for-like sales for the four weeks to the end of July were 0.4 per cent above the levels it saw in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic struck.
Now the chain expects full-year profits to be “slightly ahead” of previous predictions.
Greggs told investors that the recovery in trade over recent months has been “stronger than anticipated”, with sales particularly high in suburban areas and local high streets.
Drive-thru and delivery
The chain has also boosted its delivery and drive-thru services, with home delivery now available from 837 branches.
The new openings earlier this year have also helped to boost its total sales over six months to June a total of £546.2 million. This is just short of the £546.3 million sales it posted in the same period in 2019.
Greggs also saw like-for-like sales drop by 9.2 per cent against 2019 due to the impact of the third national lockdown. However, this was lifted by the opening of 48 new stores in the first half of the year.
The business has now highlighted even more ambitious plans to boost its growth, saying it “has the opportunity to expand its UK estate to at least 3,000 shops”.
Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs, said: “Greggs once again showed its resilience in a challenging first half, emerging from the lockdown months in a strong position and rebuilding sales as social restrictions were progressively relaxed.
“Whilst there continue to be general uncertainties in the market, given our recent performance we now expect full-year profit to be slightly ahead of our previous expectation.”