Greggs was announced as the UK’s leading bakery retailer in British Baker’s BB75 league table at an exclusive invite-only event yesterday.

Ken McMeikan, chief executive of Greggs, who is due to step down from his position in the coming weeks to head up foodservice firm Brakes, accepted a special trophy on stage on behalf of the firm. It was presented to him by BB’s editor Martyn Leek as part of a networking lunch, taking place at The Avenue in south-west London yesterday.

The BB75 league table, which ranks retail bakery firms operating in the UK based on store count, saw Greggs take the number one spot with a total estate size of 1,671, up 100 stores on last year’s figure.

Speaking to British Baker, McMeikan said: "Well we are absolutely delighted, it was a very good year for Greggs in terms of new shop openings. We opened net 100 shops which was a record. We also opened up shops which were not just on high streets, moving into locations such as motorway service stations. So it was a good year and it has been nice to be recognised for being the largest business within the UK bakery industry."

He added that the bakery sector is a competitive industry and there has been a lot of challenges over the last year for businesses and consumers. 

“What we have seen in the last 12 months is that the industry has contined to innovate. We are getting great national coverage on television programmes like The Great British Bake Off. We need to keep trying to find ways of helping customers through what are still are very difficult times by giving them exciting new products to taste, so that they keep coming back. We are very pleased with the award today and to be leading the bakery industry.”

Top industry directors and executives from across the UK attended yesterday’s event, now in its second year, whicn involved a programme of presentations including Paul Flatters, chief executive of the Trajectory Partnership.

Leek commended Greggs for its work last year, helping to force the government to perform a U-turn on the pasty tax, which could have seen many hot baked goods such as pies, pasties and sausage rolls subject to a 20% VAT charge.

He said: “I worked closely with Ken last year when the issue of the pasty tax came to the fore and was impressed with how a large corporation shared an issue with smaller firms to help draw a line in the sand and say that we cannot have this in our industry.”

This year’s BB75 Lunch was sponsored by Cybake, Rank Hovis, Dawn Foods, EPOS Group, Mariani Packing Company, Unox and Wrigley.

Read more about the BB75 Lunch and report in the 8 March issue of British Baker.