Sales at Greggs top £1bn for the first time amid 'extraordinary' popularity of vegan sausage roll

Hyped-up publicity surrounding the launch of a vegan sausage roll helped Greggs achieve annual sales of over £1billion for the first time last year.

The company’s boss, Roger Whiteside, said the group had spent ‘millions of pounds’ transforming the way people view the brand.

The bakery has been ploughing cash into store re-fits, healthier food options and is now looking to move into the evening food market, Mr Whiteside told BBC Today.

Share price: This morning, shares in Greggs are down 0.33 per cent or 6.00p to 1,805.00p

Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director from Fidelity Personal Investing, said: ‘Could this be the world’s first billion pound sausage roll?

‘Because Greggs is on a roll and in most part thanks to that now famous non-meat sausage roll that has prompted an uplift in sales of both the vegan and the traditional meaty variety. So much so that group total sales topped a billion pounds in 2018.

‘They grew 7.2% to £1,029.3 million, the first time in its history that the business has generated turnover of more than a billion pounds in a year.

‘Greggs initially launched the vegan sausage roll in 950 stores to cash in on the ‘Veganuary’ trend. Following what it described as an ‘overwhelming response from the public’ and not forgetting the lively social media debate that ensued, it began rolling it out to a further 250 stores a week. It now sells the product in all of its 1,950 outlets.

‘The task at hand now is for Greggs to cook up something equally spectacular to whet customers’ appetites and keep momentum going in 2019.’

Greggs has 1,953 stores across the UK, and Mr Whiteside said it planned to have 2,000 stores by the end of the year.