Greggs in festive boost

Baker Greggs posted a rise in sales over the Christmas and New year trading period and forecast more growth in 2012.

The Newcastle, North East England-based firm, which sells bread, sandwiches, savouries, cakes and pastries to over 6 million customers a week, said on Wednesday sales at stores open over a year rose 5.1 per cent in the five weeks to 7 January.

That compares with a rise of 0.8 per cent in its third quarter.

Total sales rose 10.8 per cent in the five week period, partly reflecting 84 net new store openings during the year.

With British shoppers' disposable incomes squeezed by rising prices, muted wages growth and government austerity measures, store chains generally had a tough Christmas, using early sales to attract customers. They do not expect 2012 to be much better.

Greggs, with its relatively low average transaction value of just over 2 pounds, has fared better than most.

It forecast 2011 results in line with expectations and "marginally positive" like-for-like sales growth in 2012 along with a net 90 more new shops.

For the 52 weeks to December 31 total sales rose 5.8 per cent, with like-for-like sales up 1.4 per cent.

With about 1,550 stores currently, Greggs has more outlets than McDonald's in the UK and sees scope for over 2,000.