Greggs hikes guid­ance as ve­gan sausage rolls ‘fly off the shelves’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By LaToya Harding

GREGGS has sold “hun­dreds of thou­sands” of its new £1 ve­gan sausage rolls in the first week of Jan­uary, mak­ing it the fastest-sell­ing new line in six years.

The bak­ery chain said the new savoury snack, which launched ear­lier this month in 900 of its stores with the biggest veg­e­tar­ian food sales, sold out in­stantly. “It has taken us by sur­prise,” said Roger White­side, chief ex­ec­u­tive. “We didn’t know if it would sell or not but it has been fly­ing off the shelves.”

Mr White­side added that sales of its nor­mal sausage rolls were boosted by the new prod­uct, as cus­tomers who failed to lay their hands on the ve­gan roll set­tled for the orig­i­nal as an al­ter­na­tive. On av­er­age Greggs sells 1.5m meat sausage rolls per week. The launch of the Quorn-filled ve­gan sausage roll co­in­cided with the start of “Ve­gan­uary”, a move­ment that en­cour­ages peo­ple to try plant-based di­ets dur­ing this month.

It also fol­lowed a pe­ti­tion by Peta last year signed by more than 20,000 peo­ple call­ing on it to launch a meat-free al­ter­na­tive. Greggs has since in­tro­duced a ve­gan soup and ve­gan Mex­i­can bean wrap.

The news comes as Greggs nudged up its pre-tax profit guid­ance af­ter to­tal sales for the year to Dec 29 rose 7.2pc.

De­spite “chal­lenges in the con­sumer sec­tor”, the re­tailer said like-for-like sales at its non-fran­chised stores grew 5.2pc in the fourth quar­ter, as cus­tomers swal­lowed more fes­tive bakes and mince pies. It also cited strong growth in its break­fast menu and hot drinks.

The FTSE 250 com­pany now ex­pects un­der­ly­ing profit be­fore tax to be at least £88m, slightly above the pre­vi­ous £86m guid­ance.

Mr White­side said the re­sults were a “strong fin­ish” to the year.

At the end of the year Greggs opened an out­let in Lon­don Bridge sta­tion, which it said had been its most suc­cess­ful travel lo­ca­tion to date. It is open­ing in more in­dus­trial parks and of­fice re­tail parks as al­ter­na­tives to high-street stores. It is also tar­get­ing univer­sity cam­puses.

“We love univer­sity cam­puses,” said Mr White­side. “If we are not in them, we are around them.”

Shares ended up 6.7pc at £14.59.

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