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Greggs eyes more London store openings, as the bakery chain looks beyond first loss since 1980s float

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Bakery chain Greggs has outlined plans to increase the size of its UK estate to 3000 shops, as it looks to post-pandemic growth.

Proposals to expand come despite a tough last year for the FTSE 250 firm, which recorded its first annual loss since it floated in 1984.

Greggs currently has 2078 branches and is looking at around 100 net new shops for the year ahead. That includes in the capital

The chain said: “New opportunities now exist in previously underrepresented locations such as central London and mass transport hubs where availability and rental levels will now make those locations more accessible.”

Chief executive Roger Whiteside told the Evening Standard half a dozen sites are being looked at in zones one and two.

The retailer saw footfall slump in 2020 as lockdowns came in. It shut stores for the first lockdown last March before reopening with social distancing rules in place.

Although its branches were open for the remainder of the year, sales fluctuated monthly depending on what restrictions were in place at different times in different parts of the UK.

In the 53 to January 2 Greggs recorded a pretax loss of £13.7 million, compared with a £108.3 million profit a year earlier. Total sales fell to £811.3 million from £1.2 billion.

But it saw good demand for deliveries via Just Eat. In the first 10 weeks of this financial year delivery has accounted for 9.6% of total sales.

The group also had a better than expected start to the year despite the latest lockdown.  Company-managed shop like-for-like sales are down 28.8% year-on-year in the ten weeks to March 13.

Whiteside said: “It can only be up from here, assuming the [government] roadmap [plan] happens as planned.”

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