Greggs, the country’s largest bakery retailer, this morning revealed it would concentrate on the “food on the go” customer as it aims to restore its business to like-for-like growth.

Unveiling its interim results for the 26 weeks to 29 June, it said like-for-like sales were down by 2.9% and pre-tax profit had fallen by £4.6m to £11.4m. The bakery chain also revealed it had been hit by the recent hot spell, with  trading in the first five weeks of its second half to 3 August down by 3.2% compared with the same period last year.

The company will also simplify its offer by combining the best facets of its on-the-go stores with its local bakery concept. It also said learnings from its Moment stores would be rolled into the main Greggs estate.

Announcing that Greggs’ priority was to return to return to like-for-like growth by “focusing on products and services”, chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “Greggs is a strong brand that has the ability to grow shareholder value over the long term. Our focus for the future will be on winning in the growing food-on-the-go market.

“As a consequence we will spend the next two to three years reshaping the business as we build the platform for long-term sustainable profit growth for the benefit of shareholders, employees and the wider community.”

Rewards scheme

The company said it would also be implementing its first customer loyalty scheme, called Greggs Rewards, within the next couple of weeks to better engage with its food-to-go customers.

Whiteside admitted: “Food on the go is a £6bn market growing at an annual rate of 9% (source: Allegra) and some 75% of customer visits to Greggs are already fulfilling a food-on-the-go need. While Greggs has defended its position as the leading retail bakery business, it has underperformed the food-on-the-go market as new entrants and existing competitors have rapidly expanded shop numbers and better met customer demands.”

However, he added: “With Greggs’ strong brand and national coverage, we see significant opportunities in this area, so a number of changes are being announced today that will position us better for medium- and long-term growth.”

For more details on the new Greggs strategy see this week’s British Baker