Bakery chain Greggs has hailed the publicity surrounding the launch earlier this year of a vegan sausage roll for an “exceptional sales performance”.
The company revealed that sales broke the £1bn (€1.16bn) barrier for the first time in the year to 29th December 2018, with total sales up 7.2% to £1.03bn.
The business made a pre-tax profit of £82.6m (€95.9m), up from £71.9m (€83.5m) the year before.
Greggs has revamped its estate over the past five years and moved into new growth categories such as healthier options, hot drinks, breakfast and hot food.
The company is now reported to be looking at expanding to the evening food market.
The business, which has 1,953 shops, opened 149 new branches during the year and closed 50, taking the total of net new openings to 99.
Its vegan sausage roll, which features a Quorn filling, launched in January to coincide with ‘Veganuary’ to huge publicity.
Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “2018 was a year that tested the resilience of Greggs’ business model and demonstrated the benefits of our strategic investment programme. The first half was significantly impacted by extreme weather but once this returned to normal our underlying strengths helped us recover the lost ground and deliver results for the year that exceeded our expectations.
“While there are significant uncertainties in the months ahead, Greggs has started 2019 in great form, helped in part by the publicity surrounding the launch of our vegan-friendly sausage roll.”