Speaking at the press conference following a record sales revenue of £835.7m, Whiteside said the company would continue the process of transforming from a traditional bakery to a food-to-go bakery.
He added the company would be reorganising its manufacturing strategy, closing bakeries in Twickenham , Edinburgh and Sleaford, Lincolnshire, and turning the remaining nine into centres of excellence. Each will specialise in a particular type of product, rather than producing small amounts of everything, as they currently do.
However, Whiteside said it was impossible to say which bakeries would produce which products, as the current priority was closing down bakeries responsibly, including trying to find up to 355 redundant staff positions elsewhere, be that in the business or elsewhere.
He said: “It’s not something we take lightly. At Greggs, we want to work closely with our people.”
forced to leave
He added that the biggest losses would be at the Twickenham factory, and that many would be forced to leave the company due to the countrywide spread of the business.
“At the end of the day, people live close to where they work, and they probably don’t want to commute.”
Food-to-go, with a focus on breakfast, and expanding the number of shops in locations outside the high street, are priorities going forward, as the company undergoes a five year programme of change.
He said: “We’re the country’s biggest bakery, but we’re not bakery to take home, we’re bakery on the go.
“There is no facet of the business which will look the same in five years’ time.”
He added: “We probably won’t be selling any bread by then, as bread continues to decline.”
Food-to-go could allow Greggs to expand to well over 2,000 stores, he suggested, but he added he did not want to be tied to a figure. However, he did say the growth would come mostly from forecourts, petrol stations and other places where people were looking for on-the-go meal solutions.
He said: “Ninety percent of the shops that we opened are away from the high street and that is because we’ve got all the highs streets covered.”
When asked about the Brexit debate, Whiteside said Greggs was not taking sides, as it did not have an export business to be affected, and any impact would be tied to a benefit or loss to the UK economy.
He said: “We simply don’t know, so we don’t have a position. We are not able to say what the impact will be on Greggs.”