Greggs has announced plans to accelerate the pace of new store openings despite admitting disruption from staff and ingredient shortages in the UK supply chain crisis.
The bakery chain, which had admitted “temporary interruptions” in the supply of some ingredients just over a month ago, said on Tuesday that it was expecting cost pressures to only increase as the winter got into gear – raising the prospect of those being passed on to customers.
It revealed a 3.5% rise in like-for-like sales in the third quarter of its financial year compared to pre-COVID crisis levels despite the headwinds facing the business.
Greggs, which has more than 2,100 stores across the UK, said it benefited from “staycations” during August and that effect continued into September as more people returned to offices.
“Subject to any unexpected COVID disruption we expect the full-year outcome to be ahead of our previous expectations,” it said.
The company added that the strong sales performance had given it confidence to accelerate the pace of new store openings to 150 net new shops next year from 100 expected during 2021.
That was despite the difficulty hiring new workers amid record vacancy levels.
Greggs said it was also looking to extend evening trading to more shops and grow app-generated and delivery sales.
The company said: “Greggs has not been immune to the well-publicised pressures on staffing and supply chains and we have seen some disruption to the availability of labour and supply of ingredients and products in recent months.
“Food input inflation pressures are also increasing; whilst we have short-term protection as a result of our forward buying positions we expect costs to increase towards the end of 2021 and into 2022.”