Mince pie bonanza over the festive season helps Greggs to increase sales

PHENOMENAL demand for festive savoury bakes stoked a Christmas sales rise at baker Greggs although snow and sub-zero temperatures dented trade at the start of 2010.

The firm, which sold more than a million mince pies each week over the festive period, yesterday said sales at stores open for more than a year increased 1.1 per cent in the four weeks to December 26 and were up 4.4 per cent in the Christmas week.

The increase was driven by strong demand for savouries, particularly festive bakes, described by chief executive Ken McMeikan as “a delicious lattice pastry, with chicken, stuffing, cranberry and creamy sage sauce." Greggs sold two million of the pastries, a rise of 23 per cent.

The firm also saw sales of mince pies jump six per cent to over six million, helped by the launch of premium Viennese mince pies.

Other Christmas winners were marshmallow snowmen and gingerbread Christmas trees dipped in chocolate.

Greggs’ full-year like-for-like sales rose 0.8 per cent, in line with the firm’s guidance of “marginally positive” growth in 2009 and it said it expected to report results for the year in line with expectations.

Analysts forecast a consensus pre-tax profit of £46.7m for 2009, up from £45.2m pounds in 2008.