LONDON — Greggs P.L.C., operator of the U.K.’s largest chain of bakeries specializing in sandwiches and other bakery-fresh food, said pre-tax operating profit fell 30% to £16,527,000 ($27,266,000). Excluding property and exceptional gains, operating profit totaled £16,335,000 ($26,952,000), in the first half ended June 27, up 9% from £15,004,000 in the first half of fiscal 2008. Sales rose 4% to £312,360,000 ($515,495,000) in the period, up from £299,151,000 in fiscal 2008.
"We have achieved a robust performance in a challenging marketplace," said Derek Netherton, chairman. "We anticipated the pressures that we would face as a result of tough trading conditions and continued high input cost inflation, and took action to control our costs accordingly. The business has also begun to benefit from the initiatives we are taking to simplify and centralize our operations, in preparation for accelerated expansion."
In commentary accompanying the results, Kennedy McMeikan, chief executive officer, said the rebranding of Bakers Oven shops to Greggs is proceeding on plan, with 40% of the 164 Bakers Oven shops now converted and the program continuing at a rate of two shops each week.
"We are pleased with the performance of these shops, which has been slightly better than we budgeted," Mr. McMeikan said.