'Challenging' outlook despite healthier turnover for Greggs

The latest Greggs shop in Northern Ireland was opened at the Twin Spires Complex in December. The retailer reported rising sales and profits last year after being boosted by its healthy eating ranges

FOOD-on-the-go retailer Greggs reported rising sales and profits last year after being boosted by its healthy eating ranges, but warned over costs pressures in 2017.

The sausage roll maker said like-for-like sales rose 4.2 per cent in the year to December 31, with total sales growing 7 per cent to £894.2 million.

Pre-tax profit nudged up from £73 million to £75.1 million.

The company, best known for sausage rolls, doughnuts and pasties, said sales of healthier food, such as salads and yoghurts, topped £100 million and now make up 10 per cent of all revenue.

In January the FTSE 250 company said its Balanced Choice menu continues to prove popular and it will soon be extending its hot drinks range to include vanilla latte alongside Fairtrade peppermint tea and green tea.

But chief executive Roger Whiteside said: "The UK consumer outlook is more challenging than we have seen in recent years, with industry-wide pressures emerging in commodities as well as labour costs."

The firm added, in the short term, it faces a period of "greater economic uncertainty and increased pressure from cost inflation".

Sterling's collapse since the EU referendum has seen import costs for British businesses rocket.

However, Mr Whiteside said Greggs is "confident of making further progress as we implement our plan to grow Greggs as a contemporary food-on-the-go brand".

In January Greggs opened a new shop in the Twin Spires Complex in west Belfast - its eighth company-managed store in the north inside the last 10 months - and it will soon have its Northern Ireland estate up to a dozen shops.

Speaking to the Irish News in December, Whiteside insists he is "not playing the numbers game" when it comes to projecting any future growth strategy by company in Northern Ireland, despite continuing speculation is plans to build a portfolio of 50 stores in the north in the medium to longer term.

"We never have, nor never will, put a number on our future store plans beyond that big vision of 2,000," he said. "Once you do that, you can be so easily beaten up over it."


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