The chain already has nearly 2,330 shops
Greggs has revealed big expansion plans after reporting record high sales, as consumers flocked to the bakery chain for low-cost meals amid a cost-of-living squeeze.
The group has been extending its opening hours and is set to trial a new 24-hour drive-thru.
The chain, which already has nearly 2,330 shops, said there is a “clear opportunity” to have significantly more than 3,000 shops across the UK over time.
Roisin Currie, Greggs’ chief executive, told the PA news agency that its growth strategy involves adding 150 new shops every year.
“We believe we have got enough momentum to continue with that target for the foreseeable future,” she said.
Greggs already opened a record 186 new shops this year, and closed 39, with new chains popping up in transport hubs like train stations and airports, retail parks and drive-thrus.
This year it is set to trial a drive-thru that will be open 24 hours, although Ms Currie said the location has not yet been decided.
It comes as Greggs revealed its total sales hit a record high of £1.5 billion last year, up by nearly a quarter on the previous year.
Households grappling with rising living costs has resulted in loyal customers who return to Greggs for value meals, although the number of customers has remained below pre-pandemic levels, it said.
Ms Currie told PA: “Customers are seeking out great quality and great value, and that’s exactly what we offer.
“If you are a person who is out and about – whether you are going to work, or going to college or going to meet friends and you need to eat, then you are coming into Greggs and having a breakfast for £2.60, a lunch for £3.60, or an evening meal offer.
“It is just that easy way to fuel yourself when you’re on the go and you need to eat.”
Greggs has been extending its opening hours in order to sell more hot evening meals, with around 500 of its stores now open to at least 8pm, and plans for a further 300 to stay open until 9pm this year.
Ms Currie said it has led to evening meals currently being “winning products”, such as pizza slices, chicken goujons and wedges, as well as pizza boxes which people can order from home.
It comes after Greggs commissioned a new pizza manufacturing line in Enfield which triples its national capacity for pizza.
She added: “The vegan range continues to do well for us. I think for customers, even if they are not vegan, it is providing those choices that mean they can have a couple of meat-free days and enjoy products like our vegan baguette or vegan southern-fried 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 £148.3 million in 2022, up from £145.6 million 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.
The price of its popular sausage roll is now £1.20, having cost £1 at the start of 2022 and being subject to several price rises throughout the year.
Ms Currie assured there are no current plans to increase prices further, but stressed it will have to keep prices under review in the “uncertain market”.
Published: by Radio NewsHub