COVID-19: Greggs sales beat pre-pandemic levels as high street stores reopen | Business News


Greggs has bumped up its revenue outlook after a “important pick-up in sales” as non-essential retailers reopened.

The bakery chain mentioned the rise partly mirrored “pent-up demand for retail which has boosted high street footfall”.

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Shoppers queue outside Primark in Norwich as England takes another step back towards normality with the further easing of lockdown restrictions. Picture date: Monday April 12, 2021.
Customers queued to return to stores as lockdown restrictions had been eased on 12 April

Greggs mentioned that like-for-like sales within the interval because the easing of restrictions on 12 April had been forward of pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Shares surged by greater than 6% after the group mentioned that, whereas there remained “appreciable uncertainty”, its earnings for the 12 months might be round 2019 levels – which might be “materially greater” than earlier expectations.

That prompted one analyst to query whether or not it will return thousands and thousands in authorities assist it obtained in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a buying and selling replace, Greggs mentioned that complete sales within the 18 weeks to eight Might had been £352m, which was £72m greater than the identical interval a 12 months in the past however £21m decrease than in 2019, earlier than the lockdowns which severely impacted buying and selling in 2020.

However the firm – identified for its sausage rolls, pasties and vegan bakes – pointed to an enhancing development over latest weeks.

Within the 10 weeks to 13 March, like-for-like sales had been 23.3% down on 2019 levels. However within the eight weeks after that, they had been down by 3.9%, boosted by the reopening of non-essential retailers.

Greggs mentioned like-for-like progress since 12 April “has been constructive”, although didn’t specify the precise degree of progress.

“In latest weeks, following the easing of restrictions throughout the UK, we’ve got seen a robust restoration in sales levels,” the group mentioned.

Vegan steak bakes are going to be back on the menu... but only for a select few of us
Greggs is understood for merchandise such as its vegan steak bakes

The Newcastle-based chain, which has 2,000 stores throughout the nation, mentioned it had made progress each in “walk-in” sales and deliveries – which at the moment are obtainable from 800 of its websites.

It acknowledged that additional relaxations in COVID-19 restrictions would end in “elevated competitors as cafes and eating places are in a position to compete extra successfully with our largely take-out provide”.

Pubs, eating places and cafes in England are set to be allowed to serve indoors once more from subsequent Monday, 17 Might.

Greggs mentioned it opened 34 stores and closed 11 over the 18-week buying and selling interval. Earlier this 12 months, the group reported a £13.7m loss for 2020 – its first annual loss because it listed on the inventory market in 1984.

Greggs stores had been closed for 3 months at the beginning of the pandemic, earlier than reopening final summer season, however continued to endure lowered buyer footfall as prospects stayed away from high streets.

In November, the corporate revealed that it was slicing greater than 800 jobs completely as a results of the pandemic.

Greggs benefited from £87m in authorities furlough assist for briefly laid-off staff final 12 months as effectively as enterprise charges reduction totalling £18.8m.

Clive Black, retail analyst at Shore Capital, mentioned: “We surprise, as with nearly all of the UK supermarkets, if Greggs will now re-pay enterprise price reduction and wider worker associated state assist.

“It might be inconceivable for the group to declare a dividend while taking such state assist in our view.”

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