I confess to not being a massive fan of Greggs products but obviously loads of people are, including Mr West who is very partial to a Greggs sausage roll or two. In the town where I live, there are always queues of people wanting a sausage roll or other Greggs delight, that snake out of the door. Despite my not being a fan, I am very impressed with the company’s sales success going from a regional brand to a UK-wide phenomenon. The company’s preliminary results for 2019 show total sales up 13.5% to £1.17bn and pre-tax profits up 27%. They also revealed a very strong start to 2020, with January sales good but slowing down in February which was put down to the storms across much of the UK.

Greggs currently has 2,050 outlets throughout the UK with an ever-growing presence on forecourt sites. The company’s financial announcement says that it continues to reach further into the food-on-the-go sector with ’more exposure to workplace and travel locations, and less dependence on shopping catchments’.

Last year Greggs opened 138 new shops (including 45 franchise units) and closed 41. Of the 2,050 that are currently trading, 302 are franchises operated by partners in travel and other convenience locations.

The company says it has a strong pipeline of new shop openings for this year and expects to add around 100 new shops, 40 of which will be with franchise partners.

The sausage roll remains Greggs’ signature product but the baker is keen to communicate that it is now ’so much more than just sausage rolls’. Last year it became the number-one brand for sandwiches-on-the-go and number three for coffee, according to NPD Crest data (share of visits, FY2019). The combination of these strengths contribute to its position as the number two brand for both breakfast and lunch (NPD Crest, again). It’s a very strong position helped no doubt by the launch of its vegan versions of its best sellers.

As for Greggs on forecourts, I think it’s just a shame they are not open for longer. They always seem to close really early, which means Mr West doesn’t always get a sausage roll!