Greggs has said the publicity around its vegan sausage roll launch helped drive like-for-like sales (lfls) growth of 9.6% in its company-owned stores in the seven weeks to 16 February.

Total sales for the period grew 14.1%. The group said the rate of growth had eased slightly in February and that the performance had been aided by comparatives with a period of extreme weather last year – when lfls grew 2.9% and total sales 6.2%.

Greggs said that the interest in the vegan sausage roll had boosted customer transaction numbers, with sales of traditional sausage rolls and bakes also strong.

Overall the board now anticipates that 2019 full year underlying profit before tax (excluding exceptional charges) is likely to be ahead of its previous expectations.

Greggs will report its preliminary results on 7 March.

In the year to 29 December 2018, Greggs lfls grew 2.9% at its company-managed stores with total sales growing 7.2%.

The lfls figure was made up of a 1.5% increase in H1 and 4.2% in H2. In the fourth quarter lfls were up 5.2%.

The group ended the year just 47 sites shy of what was once its growth target – 2,000. During the year it opened 149 shops (including 62 franchised) with 50 closures. It expects net shop openings to be around 90-100 in 2019.