UK: New ranges proving popular with customers

Undated handout photo issued by Greggs of Roger Whiteside, who has been named as the new chief execu

Undated handout photo issued by Greggs of Roger Whiteside, who has been named as the new chief executive of bakery chain Greggs. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday January 24, 2013. Former M&S food halls boss Roger Whiteside will take over from Ken McMeikan, who announced his intention to stand down in December last year. Mr Whiteside, who is 54, is already on the board of Greggs, having served as a non-executive director since March 2008. See PA story CITY Greggs. Photo credit should read: Greggs/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. - Credit: PA

Pasty and sausage roll maker Greggs said its profits will beat expectations after customers warmed to its new products and refurbished shops.

The group, which has 1,660 outlets, reported a 5.4% jump in like-for-like sales for the 11 weeks to last Saturday as it benefited from demand for its new low-fat sandwich range and improved coffee blend.

Shares jumped 13% today after the company said the improved sales meant that profits for this year will be materially ahead of its previous hopes.

Brokers at N+1 Singer raised their profit forecast for Greggs by 10.5% to £54.5 million, representing a 35% cumulative increase since January.

The improvement follows a drive by chief executive Roger Whiteside to increase focus on the food-on-the-go market, which accounts for 75% of customer visits, rather than traditional take-home business.

The company has previously admitted it underperformed the food-on-the-go sector as convenience stores, coffee shops and fast food operators better met customer demands, particularly in traditional shopping centre locations.

Mr Whiteside said: “This strong performance reflects a positive response from customers to new product initiatives, improved service, better value and our investment in shop refurbishments alongside more favourable trading conditions.”

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Greggs has completed 153 of the 200 shop refits planned for this year and said it is encouraged by the results so far.

It has also opened 32 new shops in the period and closed 43 poor performing sites.

The company said ongoing deflation in commodity costs had also helped boost its margin performance.

It added: “Our sales-driving initiatives have been delivered in more favourable trading conditions than we had expected with no adverse weather impacts so far this year.

“We expect to continue rolling out new initiatives, in line with our strategy, in the months ahead.”

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