Greggs on a roll as sales top £1bn for the first time

  • Video report by ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills

Greggs' sales in 2018 have topped £1 billion for the first time, while the launch of its vegan sausage roll has helped sales surge in 2019.

The British bakery chain posted a 15% rise in pre-tax profits to £82.6 million in 2018, with sales rising 7.2% to just over £1 billion.

It also said the publicity of the snack helped sales surge 9.6% in the seven weeks to 16 February.

Greggs said while the first half of 2018 was impacted by extreme weather, it was able to bounce back and perform ahead of expectations.

The publicity of the vegan sausage roll helped sales surge 9.6% in 2019. Credit: PA

Greggs hailed the "enthusiastic reception" and "extraordinary" level of coverage surrounding its vegan sausage roll, which has helped spur a spike in footfall since its January launch.

Chief executive Roger Whiteside paid homage to the impact of the vegan sausage roll alongside the firm’s full-year results.

"Whilst there are significant uncertainties in the months ahead, Greggs has started 2019 in great form, helped in part by the publicity surrounding the launch of our vegan-friendly sausage roll," he said.

Mr Whiteside added: "We hope to continue benefiting from this strong momentum during the first half of 2019 before facing stronger comparatives later in the year."

Greggs sells 1.5 million sausage rolls a week but created the new option due to public demand after an online petition by Peta, calling for a vegan version, was signed by more than 20,000 people last year.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: "Greggs is one of those businesses which has shrugged off the doom and gloom currently engulfing the UK high street.

"Turnover reached record levels in 2018 and trading has been strong so far this year too, helped along by the launch of Greggs’ vegan sausage roll.

"We don’t know how many of the vegan rolls the baker is actually selling, but the publicity is getting customers through the door one way or the other."