RetaiL baker Greggs complained of rising energy costs as it reported flat like-for-like sales performance over the Christmas trading period, in a statement last week.

Group MD Sir Michael Darrington said the group’s like-for-like sales in the second half, the 28 weeks to December 31, 2005, increased by 3%. Under-lying like-for-like sales growth was around 2%, after adjusting for the benefit of extra trading days over the Christmas period compared with 2004.

Like-for-like sales over the Christmas and New Year period, the five weeks to January 7, were up by 5.4%. However, comparisons are distorted as there were additional trading days. Underlying like-for-like sales progress during this period was negligible, said Greggs.

Despite substantial cost pressures during the year, notably in energy, it had made some progress in controlling costs in what is undoubtedly a more challenging trading environment, Sir Michael said. Greggs expects to report modest progress, in line with market expectations, in its preliminary results on March 10, he added.

During 2005, Greggs opened 72 new shops and closed 16, giving a total of 1,319 outlets trading as Greggs and Bakers Oven as of December 31. This was ahead of target.