Greggs Plc Lifts 8% On Improved Trading

Shares in Greggs (LSE: GRG) rose by more than 8% in early trade this morning, following a positive update in which management revealed it was making good progress with its strategic plan.

Total sales lifted by 4.8% in the 5 weeks ending 4 January 2014, but the headline figure was like-for-like (LFL) sales in the Christmas/New Year period increasing by 3.1%, compared against 2012’s fall of -2.9%.

For FY2013, total sales increased by 3.8% though LFL sales fell marginally by 0.8% despite Q4 LFL sales rising by 2.6%. Full-year guidance remains in line with previous expectations.

The bakery has close to 1,700 retail outlets in the UK (I admit to despairing when the store across from Fool HQ closed, until I realised there was another one within five minutes’ walk!), and 2013 saw a record 216 shop refits. 68 stores opened in the year; equally, 68 closed, but interestingly 70% of the new shops were opened  in locations away from high streets, reflecting management’s strategic changes.

Chief executive Roger Whiteside commented:

“I am encouraged by the improvement in trading that we achieved as we progressed through the year, in part reflecting our new ‘Bakery food-on-the-go’ strategy.  As a result, full year results should be in line with our previous expectations.  Whilst we face a number of challenges in the coming year we remain confident that we can make further progress with our strategic plan in 2014.”

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> Sam does not own shares in Greggs.