High street bakery chain Greggs has reported a 3.2% increase in first-half like-for-like sales (LFLs), an improvement on its half-year 2013 LFL decline.

The company said the sales growth had been driven by “initiatives that have further improved [its] products, availability, service and value”.

Unveiling an interim management statement for the 26 weeks to 28 June 2014, the baker said total sales were up 3.1% to £373m and it gained a pre-tax profit of £16.9m, excluding exceptional items.

Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs, said: “While our year-on-year performance has benefited from comparison with a period of weak trading in 2013, sales growth is also being driven by initiatives that have further improved our products, availability, service and value. Our new and improved coffee blend and sandwich range are great examples of this.

“Although sales comparables strengthen in the second half, the risk of input cost inflation appears to be reducing. Overall, we expect to deliver an improved financial result for the year and further progress against our strategic plan.”

During the trading period, the retailer completed 131 refits, opened 26 new shops and closed a further 36 - taking its net openings for the year so far to 10.

The company hails its new coffee blend and improved sandwich range, including a greater choice of ‘healthier’ sandwiches below 400 calories, as being operational highlights of the period.

By disposing of a number of surplus freehold properties in the year to date, the company made property gains on disposal of £1.4m.

The company said it expected an improved financial result for the year and further progress against its strategic plan. It also reported on plans for further investment in product changes and improved customer service, alongside investment in new systems and processes.