Greggs is to trial late opening hours at some of its shops around the UK.
Well, that reality might not be a pipe dream if this pilot scheme is a success.
To be fair, some of the branches already stay open past the usual hours. One in Westminster is open until 11pm, whereas another in Newcastle city centre – where else? – remains open until about 8.30pm or 9pm.
The traditional high street Greggs shop. Credit: PA
The famous bakery chain announced this new plan after a strong showing in the latest sales reports. It’s seen a large rise in sales and profits, in no small part as a result of the success of the vegan sausage roll.
Basically, Greggs is in rude health right now.
Profits in the first half of 2019 rose to a mighty £36.7m from £24.1m in 2018. That’s a lot of vegan sausage rolls.
In terms of total sales, numbers are up 15 percent to £546m. Strong figures.
One of the more modern Greggs stores. Credit: PA
This whole thing is part of Greggs’ desire to move from being a high street bakery chain to an ‘on the go brand’ – whatever exactly that means.
What it does tell us is that later opening hours, new and bigger shops, and other perks for your pasty experience are all on the table – pun completely intended – now that the readies are there for it.
Greggs’ chief executive Roger Whiteside told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “We’ve converted ourselves from a traditional bakery business to a modern food-on-the-go brand with new shops, extended seating, extended trading hours, wi-fi, better products, better value and we’re more in touch with where the customers are today.”
Stores have been opening at a rate of knots – around 100 per year, in fact. Soon, store number 2,000 will open its doors as the company winds its way towards its aim of 2,500 shops.
Greggs CEO Roger Whiteside. Credit: PA
That means that Greggs is also looking to move away from the traditional high street and building new stores in places like transport hubs and office parks, instead of its traditional bread and butter – sorry, again – locations.
However, there is concern on the horizon. Whiteside spoke in the recent results statement about the impact that Brexit could have on the chain.
He wrote about “the potential impact that a disorderly exit might have on supply chains, tariffs, exchange rates and consumer demand.”
Whiteside continued: “As disclosed at the time of our preliminary results in March, we are building stocks of key ingredients and equipment that could be affected by disruption to the flow of goods into the UK.”