Greggs, the UK’s largest bakery retailer, confirmed plans this morning to open three more Greggs Moment stores – its new coffee shop format – in the year ahead.

It is believed the new shops will remain in its traditional heartland of the north east – so they can be serviced by its Gosforth bakery. The decision to develop the concept comes after the successful launch of a prototype store in Newcastle city centre last year.

Greggs Moment stores feature a different menu than traditional Greggs’ outlets and has a broader range of coffees and teas. The shops themselves have a greater area given away to seating and feature soft furnishings, coupled with contemporary British design elements more akin to a gastro pub.

It is also understood that the company is looking at its local bakery stores, in a bid to give them a more artisan feel, as revealed by British Baker last year.

Ken McMeikan, chief executive of the publicly-listed company, said the concept, “has been well received by our customers” and the expansion plans come as “we continue to pursue the opportunity presented by the growing coffee shop market”.

The move into coffee arrives as Greggs looks to expand its offering into new markets.

McMeikan explained: “We have continued to move into a wider range of locations where our customers are at work, on the move or at leisure, with one in three of our new shops opening away from traditional high street locations. This included nine openings in retail parks and six in industrial parks, together with two new shops at petrol filling stations and a kiosk on the concourse of Newcastle railway station.”

Plus, he revealed that opening of a trial store at Lymm motorway services, via Moto Hospitality, had worked well and the company “will be exploring further opportunities to open shops in partnership with Moto in the year ahead”.

The company opened 98 shops in 2011, a net addition of 84 following the closure of 14 stores, and it opened its 1,500th store in March. Greggs said it would continue with its expansion plans, adding about 90 shops in 2012 and refitting around 100-120 stores as well. It also revealed that its 2011 opening at Westfield Stratford City development in East London had broken all records for first day of trading and was its second-highest turnover store in the UK.

What is more, the company also revealed it had spent £21m renovating its Newcastle and Penrith bakeries in 2011. It plans to spend circa £45m on capital expenditure in 2012, down from the £59.1m spent last year, but still funded out of the company’s “strong cash flow”.