Subway is set to become the UK’s biggest bakery retailer in the New Year if it continues its current rate of growth, pushing Greggs from premier position.

The US franchise chain now has 1,200 outlets in the UK, up 180 since British Baker’s annual Top 50 league table of bakery retailers was published in January this year.

A half-year update of the ranking, which includes all bakery retailers from craft bakeries to coffee chains, shows that Subway is now only 188 outlets behind Greggs, which has headed the league table since it was first published two years ago.

With Greggs set to open a relatively modest 20 outlets by mid-2008, and Subway pushing ahead with its target to open 2,010 by 2010, the gap between the two is closing quickly.

== Coffee shops ==

The revised top 10 of the league table of bakery retailers shows that Costa Coffee has also been expanding rapidly this year, opening over 100 outlets since January. Starbucks remains in fourth place in the UK, with 79 new outlets opened this year.

Meanwhile, travel concession business SSP, which was sold by catering giant Compass in April 2006, has revised its figures since the last list was compiled and now registers 445 outlets, 116 fewer than in January, under fascias including Millie’s Cookies and Upper Crust.

It explains that Compass and motorway services company Moto are licensed to use the Caffè Ritazza and Upper Crust brands. Its figures relate to the SSP-operated units in the UK and exclude the Compass and Moto estates. There are 181 Caffè Ritazza units and 101 Upper Crust units operated by Compass and Moto in Britain.

Meanwhile, Caffè Nero continues its expansion at number six, with 20 new outlets added so far this year.

== Steady growth ==

Further down the list, M&S Café Revive and Pret A Manger both continue to grow steadily, as does BB’s Coffee & Muffins. Retail and brands director Michelle Young says another five franchises are planned by the end of the year.

The shock news of the year sees a new business appearing at number 10 in the updated ranking. It was formed when Lyndale Foods, at number eight in January’s list went into administration this June.

The company owned businesses including Sayers and Hampsons and had 201 shops at the time the last Top 50 was compiled. But the group had already been showing signs of weakness for a number of years, shedding nearly 200 jobs as part of an overhaul in 2006.

A management buy-out by chairman Sandy Birnie and chief executive Michael Quinlan has now formed a new company, Sayers the Bakers. They bought back 158 Hampsons and Sayers stores, as well as Hampsons’ bakery in Bolton. Lyndale’s swanky 15-shop London chain Maison Blanc had already been sold to Kuwait-based Kout Food Group Company in October last year.

Sayers remains ahead of O’Briens Sandwich Bars which is waiting for promotion to the top 10. It has opened 10 outlets in the months since January, bringing its total to 132.

So who will be relegated in January, and who will top the table? Watch out for British Baker’s Top 50 bakery retailers league for 2009.