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Tue 3rd Mar 2020 - Greggs reports ‘exceptional’ year, plans 100 new openings in 2020
Greggs reports ‘exceptional’ year, plans 100 new openings in 2020: Greggs has reported total sales rose 13.5% to £1,167.9m (2018: £1,029.3m) in the 52 weeks ended 28 December 2019, with company-managed shop like-for-like sales up 9.2% (2018: 2.9%). Pre-tax profit excluding exceptional items was up 27.2% to £114.2m (2018: £89.8m). A total of 138 new shops opened, 41 closed (97 net openings) meaning the company had 2,050 shops trading at 28 December 2019. It reported a ‘very strong start’ to 2020 in January, but significant slowdown in February due to storms. Company-managed shop like-for-like sales were up by 7.5% in the nine weeks to 29 February 2020. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “2019 was an exceptional year of progress for Greggs, during which we experienced a sustained increase in customer visits as increased awareness and appreciation of our brand gathered momentum. Our exceptional performance was founded on the changes that we have made across our multi-year strategic investment programme, which has delivered transformational change across the business and has now set us up for the next phase of growth. We made a very strong start to 2020 in January, but in February saw a significant slowdown in sales growth as a result of the storms that have affected the UK. There is some uncertainty in the outlook, particularly given the potential impact of Coronavirus. This aside we expect to make year-on-year progress and will do so from a strong financial position, supporting our investment for further growth whilst also delivering good returns for all stakeholders.” He added: “Relocating and upgrading our shop estate to be better suited to the food-on-the-go market has been a crucial part of our strategic transformation. We continue to see significant potential for further growth in shop numbers as we target catchments where Greggs is still not available, as well as optimising our existing estate footprint. Whilst our supply chain plans are designed to build capacity for 2,500 UK shops we see greater opportunity than this and are bringing forward our plans to invest in additional production capacity, particularly in savouries, to meet increased demand and prepare for the next phase of development of the business. Convenience is the key consideration when customers choose where to shop for food-on-the- go. Being within easy reach for customers when they need us is a prerequisite and we are working hard to increase shop numbers in order to provide good access as well as introducing a delivery service from more of our locations. In 2019 we opened 138 new shops (including 45 franchise units) and closed 41, growing the estate to 2,050 shops trading as at 28 December 2019, 302 of which are franchised shops operated by partners in travel and other convenience locations. In August we celebrated the landmark opening of our 2,000th shop at South Shields interchange in South Tyneside. We have a strong pipeline of new shop openings for 2020 and expect to add around 100 net new shops in the year, including around 40 with franchise partners. We will continue to focus on increasing our presence in travel, leisure and work-centred catchments. As recognition of our brand for food-on-the-go grows, new pipeline opportunities are opening up, allowing us to extend our reach further into locations such as drive-thru, railway stations, airports and major supermarkets. At the end of 2019, 41% of our shop estate was located in travel, leisure and work-centred catchments and we expect this proportion will continue to rise as we expand and relocate our estate. As we develop our reputation for coffee we are pursuing an additional growth opportunity in the provision of a fully-seated offer. We currently have 160 shops offering a food-led coffee shop experience with average sales in these units significantly ahead of the group average. With falling costs of retail space we will be seeking to extend and relocate shops in appropriate locations to reach further into this part of the market. The need to refurbish our shops continues to be relatively modest thanks to the substantial investments made to transform legacy bakery shops to our food-on-the-go format. We completed 57 refurbishments and franchise partners refurbished a further nine units. In the year ahead we expect to complete the transformation of 90 remaining bakery-format shops as we consider what level of investment is needed to meet demand in new channels before embarking on the next phase of shop refurbishment.”

Escape Hunt launches second Dr Who-themed escape room: Escape Hunt, the operator of escape rooms, has launched a new Dr Who-themed escape room experience with BBC Studios. The company stated: “A Dalek Awakens will be the second Doctor Who game to be launched, adding to the growing portfolio of proprietary games developed by Escape hunt and building on the initial Doctor Who game which was opened in December 2018. The IP content deal with BBC Studios highlights Escape Hunt’s premium appeal and helps to further differentiate the business from its competitors whilst supporting its strategy of being the premier escape room brand. The company believes that using branded content in its escape rooms helps drive awareness and broadens the appeal of escape games which will help to drive footfall and brand awareness. Escape Hunt has developed a range of industry-leading themed escape rooms across the UK. The newest game, Doctor Who: A Dalek Awakens, will be available at the Escape Hunt Birmingham Resorts World and the Reading, Norwich and Basingstoke sites, with several other venues opening in future.” Richard Harpham, Escape Hunt chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be creating a second game, Doctor Who: A Dalek Awakens , with BBC Studios which adds to our growing portfolio of proprietary games and builds on growing interest from our initial game with BBC Studios, Doctor Who – The Live Escape Game. Doctor Who has a loyal and dedicated fanbase which we have seen from the success of our first game, so to be able to bring some variety to the public with a brand new and innovative game centred around the iconic Dalek is an exciting prospect for Escape Hunt. We look forward to bringing the new game to life at Escape Hunt venues across the UK.”

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