Five ways Greggs is gunning for growth

Retail Gazette talks to Greggs CEO Roisin Currie to find out how the UK's favourite bakery chain plans to grow.

Greggs

Greggs has become a much-loved food option for consumers up and down the country. The baker is on a (sausage) roll with sales surging 27.1% to £694.5 million in its half year to 2 July.

However, profits remained flat due to the re-introduction of business rates, increase in VAT and higher levels of cost inflation.

Greggs’ new CEO Roisin Currie, who took over from Roger Whiteside in May, insists “the future remains positive” and set out five ways the baker plans to boost sales and profits.


Opening new stores

Greggs has long thrived on the high street and still sees opportunities to grow further.

It plans to open 150 new stores this year and will increase its number of branches from 2,200 to 3,000 “in the coming years”.

The bakery chain’s stores continue to thrive, despite tough times on the high street. The retailer revealed that like-for-like sales in company-managed stores were 12.3% higher than pre-pandemic levels during its first half, despite footfall levels being down.

Greggs
Greggs opened in Leicester Square to great fanfare last month

Its store expansion has seen it move away from traditional shopping areas and focus on areas where Greggs has been underrepresented, such as central London, transport hubs, retail parks and even supermarkets.

Over the past two weeks it has opened a new flagship branch in London’s Leicester Square, dubbed ‘Mega Greggs’ and a store at Liverpool Street station.

It also opened three ‘drive-thru’ sites, and has a “growing pipeline” of such stores.

Greggs is making sure it has all bases covered to serve as many people through its stores as possible.

Digital growth

The bakery chain is also focused on improving digital as shoppers increasingly turn to takeaway food options.

Currie says that Greggs took full advantage of the pandemic by strengthening its relationship with delivery service Just Eat, which it has worked with since 2019.

Just Eat is now available from 1,180 Greggs shops and the baker expects further growth from delivery as it both learns to serve it more effectively and increases availability into the evening.

Greggs says the delivery channel is incremental spend and offers customers access to Greggs products at a time when they are unable to visit a branch.

The bakery chain also relaunched its app last year after experimenting with it since 2019 and says usage has grown strongly as it put marketing behind it.

“We called this mission ‘The Next Generation Greggs’ when we thought we had to move ourselves into that gap in the market,” Currie tells Retail Gazette.

Greggs’ app offers a loyalty proposition which allows customers to receive a stamp for each purchase. The points are then turned into free products.

The app also allows customers to skip queues in stores by pre-ordering and doing click-and-collect.


Winning spend in the evening

Online isn’t the only way Greggs can bolster its convenience credentials. The bakery plans to extend opening hours to make sure it is there for customers seeking a delicious pasty for their dinner.

Currently 300 of its shops are open until at least 8pm and it will be extending the opening hours of more by the end of the year.

“The evening daypart represents the largest segment of the food-to-go market by value, but is the area where Greggs currently has the lowest penetration,” the company said.

“By extending trading hours, addressing menu options and offering delivery we believe that Greggs can increase its participation in the evening market, further leveraging our investment in facilities that are under-utilised after 4pm.”

Greggs recently had its application to make its new Leicester Square flagship 24 hours rejected by Westminster Council over concerns it would be a magnet for antisocial behaviour. The baker had offer to install CCTV and have security at the branch.

Greggs already operates late night branches, such as its branch at Newcastle city centre, where queues of hungry revellers line up for tasty treats into the small hours.


Menu personalisation

Greggs is also giving customers more freedom to create the meals that they want.

It now allows app users to personalise pizza toppings as an option for click-and-collect and will enable customers to create their own sandwiches over the next two months.

Greggs baguette
Greggs will let shoppers choose their own sandwich fillings in the next two months

“We’ve had breakfast customisation for many years now,” Currie says. “We’ve had great feedback from just allowing customers to choose.”

The customisation will not stop at baguettes. Currie has plans to extend this across more of Greggs’ menu.

“Beyond baguettes, we would look at things like salad boxes. It’s one of those journeys where we take the next product range and find ways to personalise it,” she explains.

Capitalising on its cult following

Greggs undoubtedly has a huge fan base.

“We have set ourselves a mission to be the customers’ favourite place on the go. There’s been decades of hard work going on and we never take success for granted,” says Currie.

The company is capitalising on its cult status with eye-catching tie-ups. It launched a clothing range with Primark earlier this year and is about to launch a new festival-themed collection with the fashion giant, made up of 21-pieces including bodysuits, cycling shorts and bumbags.

Greggs' new festival-themed collection with Primark
Greggs’ new festival-themed collection with Primark

The new collection will hit Primark stores across the UK on August 5 and is sure to be snapped up by Shoreditch hipsters.

 

Currie says Greggs will continue to do more tie-ups.

“People love to talk about the collaboration. It’s quite tongue in cheek. Our colleagues get excited, our customers get excited, and we can build on that,” she says.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We like to have fun.”

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