Sales were strong at Greggs over the Easter period as the bakery retailer announced like-for-like growth of 0.8% for the 18 weeks to 7 May 2011.

The chain saw total sales growth for the period increase by 4.8%, helped by sales of three million hot cross buns – up 23% on last year.

Its expansion across the UK has continued with 20 net new shops opened over the 18-week period, taking it past the 1,500 mark for the first time to its current total of 1,507 shops.

In January this year Greggs announced it would be ramping up the speed of its expansion programme by a third this year, to 80 net new shops, after exceeding its target for new store openings in 2010.

“The positive like-for-like sales performance compares with the increase of 0.4% reported for the first 10 weeks, reflecting good Easter trading and the favourable weather over the last four weeks,” commented chairman Derek Netherton.

To date, Greggs has also completed 59 refits of its shops, including 13 concept outlets.

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