Business

Greggs sales boosted by healthier food

Greggs sandwich Image copyright Greggs

High Street bakery Greggs has reported a rise in sales, helped by its healthier 'Balanced Choice' menu.

Total sales grew by 6% to £422m, with like-for-like sales up 3.8% in the first half of the year.

The company, which has 1,730 stores, did not comment on Brexit directly but said it was "alert to any change in consumer demand that may result from the current economic uncertainty".

Greggs said it had made an encouraging start to the second half of the year.

"In the first half of 2016 we delivered good like-for-like growth by reinforcing the freshness and value of our offer in line with changing trends in the food-on-the-go market," the statement said.

"We added to our 'Balanced Choice' range with sales growing strongly as more and more of our customers recognise the quality, range and value we offer in these healthier food choices."

'Gluten-free'

Chief executive Roger Whiteside told the PA news agency that he was planning to introduce more new products later this year.

"There will be new soups and we're going to revamp our snack range, going own-label on crisps and introducing nuts and fruits packets. We'll also see the first gluten-free products launch in the second half of the year," he said.

The company is investing in refurbishing its stores - with 86 completed so far this year and plans for another 200 to be completed by the end of the year. It expects to open about 70 new shops this year.

Operating profit, excluding exceptional gains, rose 6.7% to £27.2m from a year earlier.

Pre-tax profits for the half-year were £25.4m, broadly unchanged from a year earlier as a result of costs related to the closure of three bakery sites.

In March, the company said it would close bakeries in Twickenham, Edinburgh and Sleaford.

Looking ahead, Greggs said it expected "increased inflationary pressure in wage costs as the 'national living wage' increases take effect".

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