Greggs has released a strong set of sales figures for the half-year to June.

The bakery retailer’s group sales for the 24 weeks to 14 June 2008 were up by 7.7% to £276m (2007: £256m).

Pre-tax profit rose 32% to £22.2m. However, pre-tax profit excluding property and exceptional gains dipped by 4.3% to £14.1m.

The results are the last to be presented by Greggs’ outgoing managing director Sir Michael Darrington, who’s held the role since 1984.Darrington said the past 12 months had “become more challenging” for business. He added: “For the last two months I have been working alongside our new chief executive Ken McMeikan.

This period of collaboration has worked extremely well and, as I hand over my executive responsibilities to him, I feel confident that he will add considerable value through the experience he brings from outside the group. This will complement our established expertise to help build an even stronger business for the future.”

Greggs chairman Derek Netherton said: “I would like to record the board’s appreciation of [Darrington’s] truly outstanding contribution to the business over these years. Thanks to his strong leadership and clear vision, the group has grown to become the UK’s leading bakery retailer and has delivered real value to shareholders, employees and the wider community.”