The chief executive of high street bakery giant Greggs has praised “an exceptional step-up in performance” for the brand in 2014 as it revealed total sales were up 5.5% to £804m and own-shop like-for-like sales had risen 4.5%. 

The chain, which operates 1,650 retail outlets throughout the country, reported that pre-tax profit increased by a huge 41.1% to £58.3m, having had a worth of £41.3m last year. Meanwhile, dividend per share was up 12.8% to 22p.

The preliminary 2014 results are in stark contrast to 2013, when like-for-like sales showed a 0.8% decline and dividend share was 19.5p.

Last year saw 50 new shops opened and 71 closed, with 213 refitted. Successes for the brand include coffee sales, which reached £1m per week and “strong growth” from its Balanced Choice range.

"Exceptional step-up"

Roger Whiteside, chief executive, said: “2014 was a year of significant change and an exceptional step-up in performance for Greggs as we began to implement our new strategic plan centred on the growing food-on-the-go market.

“We have improved both our food offer and the shop experience for customers. Market conditions have been more favourable and like-for-like sales have grown throughout the year. This has resulted in record underlying profits for the financial year.

"Overall we are confident of delivering a further year of good growth and progress against our strategic plan in 2015.”