GREGGS said efforts to stem its sales decline started to pay off in the third quarter of the year, sending shares up almost three per cent yesterday.
The bakery chain posted a 0.5 per cent fall in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to 28 September, an improvement on the 2.9 per cent decline reported in the first half when the July heatwave kept customers away.
Total sales increased 3.6 per cent, helped by new shop openings.
“We have taken action to drive sales more effectively and those are starting to take effect,” chief executive Roger Whiteside said.
Whiteside, who joined as chief executive in February, unveiled plans this summer to pull the chain away from its roots in the dwindling bread business and focus on the booming food-on-the-go market.
The group introduced a new range of pizza products, extended trading hours to attract customers on their way home from work and improved the ranges on offer on Sundays.
“All these things are moving us forward and helping us fight for every penny out there,” he added.
Greggs has also slowed store openings to focus on revamping existing stores into a “bakery food on the go” format emphasising new ranges of lunchtime food and afternoon snacks.
It has so far completed 141 shop refits in the year to date and plans to complete 215 by the end of the year.
Whiteside said there will be no net increase in stores this year, with the number of closures matching the number of new openings.
“We still think there is scope for over 2,000 Greggs shops but our focus now is on reshaping the business,” he said.