LONDON — A successful Easter selling season helped Greggs P.L.C., operator of the U.K.’s largest chain of bakeries specializing in sandwiches and other bakery-fresh food, drive like-for-like sales growth of 2% in the 19 weeks ended May 9.

"Our shops sold over 2.3 million hot cross buns during 2009, an increase of 10% compared with the previous year," said Derek Netherton, chairman, in an interim management statement issued May 13. "During recent weeks there have been some encouraging signs of greater stability in customer numbers.

"Performance in the year to date remains in line with our expectations. Margins are as we budgeted, with ingredient costs continuing to increase overall but offset by some improvement in energy costs that we expect to continue during the second half."

Mr. Netherton said the company’s efforts to create a single Greggs brand in the United Kingdom remain on track.

"Thirty-five of our 160 Bakers Oven shops have now been converted to the Greggs fascia, with encouraging results," he said. "We have also completed the sale of our 10 shops in Belgium to Foodmakers NV in line with the provision in our 2008 accounts. Our other plans to centralize and simplify the businesses are progressing well, and our financial position remains strong."