Bakeries have been a star performer in the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) market in the past year.

They recorded the strongest growth in eat-in dining across QSR channels in the 12 months to this April, with sales up 19% and number of visits up 18%, according to analysts The NPD Group.

Total sales at bakery outlets rose 6% in the year, with a 2.2% increase in the number of visits, outperforming pizza and chicken outlets.

NPD said the best evidence for success was in the number of servings, with bakery outlets recording a 9% jump to 1.17 billion – the strongest servings growth in the past year of any QSR channel.

Bakeries were also well placed to tap some of the biggest trends in UK foodservice and ramp up their performance in on-the-go food market, according to Peter Linden, insight manager for UK foodservice at NPD.

“Bakeries, by their very nature, focus on food-to-go and this is where the growth is, with sales in this part of Britain’s total out-of-home market having grown by 8% in the year to April 2019,” he explained, adding that some bakeries had already shaped their offer to tap this.

“Many businesses – small and large – are moving away from their traditional bakery offering to a sharper food-to-go focus. This involves putting on good coffee, offering new food choices – such as pizza, salads, pasta, hot sandwiches, croissants and pasties – and much more.”

Bakeries recorded the strongest growth in coffee servings of any QSR channel in the year to April, with servings of coffee up nearly 19%.

Currently, bakeries account for 5% of the £22.5bn food-to-go market, but there is an opportunity to grow this by targeting different times of day, such as dinner, and offering delivery. Bakeries make up just 3% of total click-and-collect services, and delivery business for bakeries is still at a very low level, although delivery volume was up nearly 63% in the past year.

“Say the word ‘bakery’ and some might think of a traditional family-run business that sets to work each day well before dawn, turning out bread, savoury bakes, pastries and cakes for sale across the counter,” added Linden.

“Those outlets still exist throughout Britain, but there are many other ambitious outlets already competing head-on with the big high street names. We believe competition will heat up. Bakery chains are ideally suited to riding some of the big trends in British foodservice and have responded imaginatively to consumer demand for convenience.”