Greggs held on to its position as the UK’s largest bakery retailer by the narrowest margin in British Baker’s new BB75 league table for 2010.
The chain currently has 1,419 UK shops, just 10 more than sandwich chain Subway. The latter opened 125 sites last year, closing the 119 store gap a year ago to just 10. Last January, Subway predicted it would overtake Greggs by summer 2009.
Greggs’ chief executive Ken McMeikan said he was delighted to maintain Greggs’ position as the nation’s largest bakery retailer, particularly in view of Subway’s ambitious targets.
Greggs plans to open a net 50-60 shops this year as it steps up expansion, with a target of 600-plus extra shops in the UK.
“It is important to focus on the quality of the shops, this is not a race for space,” said McMeikan. “When we sign a contract, it is usually for 10 years, with a break at five years. We want to find really good-quality units as we are in it for the long term.”
Subway development agent Neil Black said he was pleased with the pace of store development, “achieved despite the recession and a tightening of available finance”. Subway had also taken advantage of the competitive property market to relocate and redevelop a number of stores, he added.
The expanded BB75 league table – formerly the BB Top 50 – covers the 75 biggest bakery retailers in the UK. The table shows Costa Coffee (at number three) was the fastest-growing coffee chain in the UK, adding 185 sites over 2009.
Among the big losers in 2009 were BB’s Coffee & Muffins and Coffee Republic. Both went into administration and significantly reduced their number of franchises. The new list also sees many traditional bakers holding steady and even expanding amid difficult economic conditions.
l Greggs’ sales in the Christmas week were up 6.5% and like-for-like growth was 4.4%. It also saw a 3.1% rise in total sales for the four weeks to 26 December 2009. The chain sold more than one million mince pies a week, up 6% on last year. Demand for savouries was strong, with like-for-like sales up 10% and sales of its Christmas festive bakes up 23% on 2008 figures.