Greggs is opening 130 new stores in the UK

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Britain’s biggest bakery chain Greggs is set to open 130 new branches in the next 12 months.

The company will also be refurbishing 100 existing stores around the country as part of its 2018 plans.

The company announced the news as it seeks to grow its presence on the high street on the back of several strong years.

Expansion plans

Founded as a bakery by John Gregg in 1939, Greggs opened their first shop in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1951.

Though once it would have seemed unimaginable, Greggs now has more branches in Britain than McDonald’s.

Its expansion plans for the next year look likely to match its growth in 2017, when the company opened 131 new stores and closed 41.

Greggs had 1,854 stores by the end of last year, 202 of which are franchised shops operated by partners.

The locations of the new stores has not yet been revealed.

Strong sales

In the company’s fourth quarter trading sales were up by 7.4 per cent, while company-managed shop like-for-like sales grew by 3.7 per cent.

However the sales only grew 3 per cent in the final three months of 2017, compared to 5 per cent in the previous quarter.

Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: ‘We finished 2017 well, delivering our 17 consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth, and anticipate that we will report full year results for 2017 in line with our previousexpectations.

‘In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on delivering the outstanding value and taste that Greggs is famous for.

‘2018 will be a record year for investment in our supply chain and we intend to increase the rate of new shop openings as we continue to grow Greggs as a leading food-on-the-go brand.’

Vegan sausage rolls

The 130 new branches isn’t the only major news from Greggs this week.

The bakery has been under pressure to introduce a vegan range to their stores.

There is currently a petition running to get Greggs to add vegan sausage rolls to the menu.

However, Roger Whiteside, chief executive, claims that creating a vegan sausage roll that tastes great is too difficult. Instead the chain looks set to introduce vegan sandwiches to its shelves later this year – but only if they also appeal to non-vegans.

This article originally appeared on our sister website The i.