Smart menu strategies and innovation have helped bakery cafés to be ranked among the top 100 UK chains, according to the latest statistics.

Technomic, a research agency for the food industry, revealed the news at its first one-day UK briefing conference in London this month. The firm explained bakery cafés grew sales by 14.2% between 2010 and 2011 - the highest percentage of any menu category.

Technomic’s menu-tracking resource, MenuMonitor, highlighted sandwiches as the most plentiful main dish items at UK limited-service restaurants (LSRs), accounting for 403 of 1,270 total items.

The company explained that many leading coffee shops and bakery cafés were expanding their sandwich offering and innovating with new flavours and ingredients combinations, as well as producing “better-for-you” options.

Coffee shops also performed well during the 12-month period, comprising the second-largest share of LSR sales, which totalled £7.8bn in 2011 overall.

Technomic explained that established brands, such as Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee and Starbucks, have helped to boost the category, as well as rapidly-growing businesses, including AMT Coffee Bars and Esquries Coffee Houses.

In 2011, coffee shops that rank among the top 100 UK chains grew sales by 8.8%, which is double the overall sales growth achieved by all the top 100 LSRs.