High street bakery Greggs will reportedly open at least 12 stores in Northern Ireland in 2016, and its first stand-alone shop in the country will open in Belfast in March.

Greggs passed 100 franchise stores in December when it opened another partnership with fuel station forecourt manager Euro Garages. Now the bakery giant has long term plans to open up to 50 stores across Northern Ireland, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

A Greggs spokesperson told British Baker: "At present we can confirm that we will be opening a company-managed shop in Belfast and a franchise shop in partnership with Applegreen near Ballymena. We are continuing to look for further opportunities to open more shops in Northern Ireland this year.”

Greggs opened its first franchise shop in the country last April at Applegreen Templepatrick Motorway Service Area on the M2.

Criona Collins, director and head of retail agency at commercial property consultancy Lampton Smith Hampton told the Belfast Telegraph that: “Greggs are on record as saying their planned shop at Boucher Road will be the first of a dozen.”

Greggs has 1,670 stores located across Great Britain and is the UK’s largest bakery chain.