Greggs is to open its first store in Northern Ireland at the end of this month, in a service station.

The bakery giant will open the debut site in a 12-month trial in an Applegreen station on the M2, just north of Belfast.

A spokesman said the trial would “enable Greggs to assess Northern Ireland’s appetite for its ’Always Fresh. Always Tasty’ customer offer”.

Applegreen service stations are operated across the UK and Ireland.

Roger Whiteside, chief executive of the company, said the company was “closer than ever” to opening in the province when the company’s Christmas trading update was announced.

Greggs praised “an exceptional step-up in performance” for the brand in 2014, as it revealed total sales were up 5.5% to £804m and own-shop like-for-like sales had risen 4.5% in its year-end results.

So far the business has remained within mainland UK, due to supply chain challenges.