Sales at the UK bakery Greggs have jumped 5.2% in the past 25 months, according to results published Monday morning. The bakery's shares have responded in kind, rising 4.34%.
Greggs, a cultural symbol of northern England, is known for its savory and sweet pastries but said earlier in the year that it was moving into healthier options. Greggs reported that it wanted to take on shops like Pret A Manger, which specializes in organic and freshly prepared soups, salads, and sandwiches. It has become especially popular in London.
In the summer, Greggs' finance director Richard Hutton gave some insight into the strategy change. According to The Financial Times in July:
Richard Hutton, finance director, said Greggs would continue to respond to changes in eating habits and to offer lower calorie sandwiches.
But when asked about the prospects for low-calorie pastry snacks, he said the company would be cautious about 'playing' with its savouries. "We would meddle with these at our peril." Sausage rolls, he pointed out, were 300 calories — and they cost 80p. Greggs sells 100m of them a year.
Even so, he suggested the sandwich range had helped change the image of Greggs, in the eyes of non-customers.
"Perhaps we are now giving permission to come into Greggs to people who didn't realise there was something there for them," Mr Hutton said.
In a statement Monday, Greggs' chief executive Roger Whiteside hinted at successful efforts to challenge up-market sandwich sellers like Pret. He said: "There is no doubt that customers are also responding to improvements in our product and service offer and to the investment we are making in the shop environment."
The businesses are still not quite targeting the same market. A Christmas sandwich at Pret will burn a larger hole in your pocket than the festive bake at Greggs, for example. But it's clear that the Newcastle-based bakery is intent on going after Pret.
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