Greggs is planning to open 130 new stores this year in a move it hopes will create around 1,500 jobs.
The food-on-the-go bakery chain said record investment in its supply chain would enable the expansion, under which half the new stores would be franchise opportunities.
It announced the plans despite continuing concerns for the health of the high street as shops and shoppers battle higher costs, especially from Brexit-linked inflation, though that is expected to ease as 2018 progresses.
In a trading update covering its fourth financial quarter, Greggs said it had weathered the pressures, with like-for-like sales rising 3.7% over the past year, though growth slowed to 3% over the festive season.
It blamed a tough comparison with Christmas 2016.
Over the past 12 months, Greggs opened 131 new stores but closed 41 as it sought the best locations for its offering.
It had 1,854 stores by the end of last year.
The company’s ambitions to service “substantially” more than 2,000 stores have taken shape through a £100m shake-up in its supply chain that has seen it expand its range to foods such as gluten-free soup and even pizza.
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Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “We finished 2017 well, delivering our 17th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth, and anticipate that we will report full-year results for 2017 in line with our previous expectations.
“2018 will be a record year for investment in our supply chain and we intend to increase the rate of new shop openings as we continue to grow Greggs as a leading food-on-the-go brand.”
Source: SKY News