High street bakery chain Greggs has topped British Baker’s BB75 list for 2012.

Ken McMeikan, chief executive of Greggs, accepted the award at the first BB75 lunch yesterday (29 February) held at The Boundary Hotel in Shoreditch, London.

It was presented to him by Lindsey Garland, business development manager of Britvic – headline sponsors of the BB75 – and Martyn Leek, editor of British Baker, at the exclusive event, which attracted some of the industry’s top UK bakery retailers.

McMeikan said: "It has been a tough year, I think it is fair to say, but we believed we would have marginally positive like-for-like growth and we achieved that. But we also said that our new shop-opening programme would mean we would open record numbers of shops and our top-line sales growth would be very good over the course of 2011 – and that is indeed what we achieved.

"Over the last three or four years, we have always tried to base our decisions completely on our customers’ insights, with them telling us what they want us to do – whether that was the refits of our shops or opening up new shops, because we were being asked to open Greggs in different parts of the country. For us, we are going to try and open up a record number of new shops – we think that will be in the region of net 90 in the coming year – and we will continue to invest in our refits."

McMeikan presented his formula for success and highlighted the current challenges bakers are faced with when attracting customers back to the high street. This included free parking at out-of-town shopping outlets and supermarket in-store bakeries. Dr Oliver Blank of German shopfitting and design specialist company Aichinger also offered his insight into the future concepts of shop design.

Commenting on the BB75 event, McMeikan added: “It is hugely important because it brings the baking industry together and provides us with an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day challenges that all of us face and share some experiences, thoughts and views about the wider baking industry. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on what more we could do as an industry to try and grow and I think that is the most important thing."

BB75 is the annual authoritative tracker of companies that sell baked products as the primary element of their food offering in a retail, food-to-go or eat-in format. It is benchmarked by the number of outlets operated by each firm.

To find out more on this year’s BB75 list, read the dedicated supplement in British Baker’s 9 March issue.