Greggs has revealed its sales jumped by nearly a quarter last year and it is eyeing up big expansion plans, as it said the cost-of-living squeeze has led more consumers to rely on low-cost meals.
The bakery chain reported total sales of £1.5bn over 2022, a 23% surge on the £1.2bn reported the previous year.
Households grappling with rising living costs has resulting in loyal customers who return to Greggs for value meals, although the number of customers has remained below pre-pandemic levels, it said.
Greggs opened a record 186 new shops over the year, and closed 39, with new chains opening in transport hubs like Liverpool Street station and Birmingham and Liverpool airports.
The group, which currently has a chain of nearly 2,330 shops, said it wants to grow to have more than 3,000 shops across the UK “in time”.
It also extended opening hours for around 500 shops to 8pm or beyond, which it revealed had led to a wave of people going to Greggs for hot evening meals like pizzas and chicken goujons.
About 5% of its total sales came from delivery services, with strong demand for sharing boxes, Greggs said.
Nevertheless, the group’s profit lifted by just 1.9% over the year, after it was hit by steep cost inflation and the withdrawal of the Government’s pandemic support.
Its pre-tax profit hit £148.3m in 2022, up from £145.6m the previous year.
Cost inflation is expected to remain a challenge this year, reaching levels of 9% to 10%, driven by staff pay pressures and energy costs.
But Greggs said it has managed to pass on some of the cost inflation to consumers through price rises, with the price of its sausage roll jumping from £1 at the start of 2022 to £1.20 by the start of 2023.
Chief executive Roisin Currie said: “2022 has been a year of strong progress for Greggs, the result of committed efforts to deliver our strategic growth plan.
“The significant opportunities on which the plan is based will remain centre stage in the year ahead as we make Greggs more accessible to even more customers.
“Although consumer incomes remain under pressure, Greggs continues to offer exceptional value to people looking for great tasting, high-quality food and drink on the go.
“We have an exciting, ambitious plan for the years ahead and, by continuing to nurture what makes Greggs special, I believe we are extremely well-placed to realise the opportunity to become a significantly larger, multi-channel business.”