Greggs: a tasty success story

Greggs shop
Photo from wikimedia commons

Eighty years ago, John Gregg started out with one goal, to deliver (by pushbike) fresh eggs and yeast to the families of Newcastle. Ten years later he chained up his bike and opened Greggs of Gosforth. Making, baking and selling fresh bread and tasty treats from his very own shop on Gosforth High Street… there’s still a Greggs there today. From these humble beginnings Greggs is now a national brand in every high street in the nation. Greggs sold over 6.3 million mince pies over the festive season.

More than just sausage rolls

We all probably associate Greggs with the humble sausage roll and I know I have queued many a time at the branch in London Bridge station for one after a long day at work. But the meaty sausage roll I love has evolved into a vegan sausage roll. This transition was helped by very clever social media marketing when Piers Morgan’s comments on the new vegan sausage rolls  brought national headlines and sales rocketed of the new varieties almost overnight.  Mr Morgan was not a fan of the new vegan variety.  

This very traditional meat brand has expanded its range and has launched many vegan friendly food options on the go. Sales are incredibly healthy and have recovered very strongly from the initial pandemic lockdown.

The numbers

In a post-Christmas trading update, Greggs revealed sales continue to rise at its 2,181 branches. Sales in 2021 were £1.2bn, a 5.3% increase on the pre-pandemic period of 2019.

New CEO

In its most recent stock exchange announcement were details of a new boss to lead and build on the existing success of the brand. Greggs is to get its first female boss after longstanding chief executive Roger Whiteside signalled that he will retire later this year at the company’s annual general meeting in April.

Mr Whiteside – who has been responsible since taking over as Greggs’ chief executive in 2013  will be replaced by Roisin Currie, who is currently the company’s retail and property director.

Ambitions are high for this national local brand to expand to 3,000 branches including more drive through branches and foreign expansion

Brexit

As  previously noted in North East Bylines, Greggs was one of many national brands to suffer shortages caused by a lack of HGV drivers in 2021. Now severe cost pressures not helped by the UK’s exit from the EU have caused many of their input costs to raise steeply. It’s a situation facing most companies and prices in the shops are rising very fast now with inflation this year expected to be above 6%. Fresh shortages in supermarket shelves are starting to be a feature of 2022 as they were in 2021.

Success

Notwithstanding the cost pressures and shortages of 2021, Greggs is a story of huge success.

Congratulations to all who work in Greggs and we wish the new CEO every success in her new role.

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