LONDON — Greggs P.L.C., operator of the U.K.’s largest chain of bakeries specializing in sandwiches and other bakery-fresh food, said operating profit, excluding exceptional items, totaled £44,295,000 ($60,812,000), in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2008, down 7% from £47,716,000 in fiscal 2007. Sales rose 7% to £628,198,000 ($862,448,000) in the period, up from £586,303,000 in fiscal 2007.
"This was a challenging year for Greggs, as we bore substantial increases in energy and ingredient costs in a period of fragile and declining consumer confidence," said Derek Netherton, chairman. "Our ability to achieve sustained like-for-like growth under these difficult conditions affirmed the fundamental strengths of the Greggs proposition; our reputation for quality, value and freshness is a great asset as consumers face tough times."
In commentary accompanying the results, Ken McMeikan, chief executive officer, identified several key initiatives for the company in fiscal 2009, including creating a single brand.
"The adoption of a single Greggs brand throughout the U.K. by converting our Bakers Oven shops will enable the whole business to benefit from our national brand advertising, on TV and elsewhere, and increase our ability to leverage our buying capability," Mr. McMeikan said. "Bakers Oven shops have in-store bakeries that will allow us to expand into parts of the country that previously were not accessible without investment in a central bakery. Our customers will also benefit from seated catering as well as the freshness of our in-store bakery offer."