Greggs chief executive Ken McMeikan has said his top priority is to “simplify the business” in order to better prepare it for expansion. The announcement follows his initial review of the business since he took over in August. The bakery retailer also released its latest trading update, which shows total sales for the 25 weeks to 6 December 2008 are up 6.6%, with like-for-like sales up 3.8%.

The company will also continue rebranding its Bakers Oven shops as Greggs, in order to move to a single fascia throughout the UK.

McMeikan said he is confident in the business’ potential for future growth across the UK, particularly in the south of England and the north west. “As a cash generative business with no debt we are in a strong position not only to weather the current downturn but also to exploit the opportunities for future growth,” he said.

Greggs will also continue its move into locations away from the high street in order to “serve its customers at work and as they travel”.

However, he announced that the company will be beginning consultations with employees at its 10 outlets in Belgium, with the intention of withdrawing from the country altogether, as the shops are currently making a loss. “Over the coming year, our priority will be to simplify the business and strengthen its capabilities to ensure that we are ready for accelerated growth and expansion,” said McMeikan.

The review also highlighted opportunities for extending the chain’s product range, following the results of customer research.