Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside wants to take the bakery group “well beyond” his public target of 2,000 sites.

Speaking at the Lunch! Show, Whiteside said there was “clearly more scope” to expand Greggs, which recently passed the 1,800 site mark, and is expanding into the South West for the first time.

Whiteside said travel hubs and industrial parks – locations which do not traditionally have a bakery – were a key focus of growth for the group.

He said while retaining Greggs’ market-leading position on savoury pastries, fresh sandwiches and sweet pastries, the group would continue to build on progress with its coffee and breakfast, ‘balanced options’ healthy eating range, and hot food, which he hopes could unlock the late afternoon early evening daypart.

Whiteside said he was now convinced of the demand for home delivery, but voiced scepticism over whether a value-led retailer could make money providing the service.

In conversation with Peter Martin of CGA, Whiteside said: “We’ve just gone pas the 1,800 shop mark. I’ve got a public target of 2,000 but that’s only because I don’t like to give a number I’m not going to hit - I am going to well beyond 2,000. I don’t know it will end up, that’s part of complexity of food to go.

“We know we can go well beyond 2,000, what we don’t know is if we’ll go well beyond 3,000. You’ve got Subway at 2,500, Costa at around 2,300 – there’s clearly more scape in Greggs yet.”

Whiteside said high footfall convenient locations were essential for Greggs, because customers were not going to travel to the brand.

He said the business had a versatility in that it could operate in anything from small kiosk sites to larger cafes with eat-in space.

Non High Street locations which have not historically had bakeshops, such as travel hubs, office parks, industrial parks, have been successful for Greggs, with more to come, Whiteside said.

The group is experimenting with franchising and partnership options with the likes of contract catering group Compass, which could unlock the university and campus space, though Whiteside said Greggs preferred to rent sites directly.

On the possibility of unlocking afternoon and evening dining via its hot food range, Whiteside said: “I don’t think we are going to get into the sit-in restaurant market, the 8pm special meal. But that 4-8pm slot, when so many people are restricted to fast food – that’s an opportunity for Greggs to get involved in.

“The one caveat is the disruptive delivery which is opening up trade beyond 8pm, and that’s something we’re looking at.”

He said after initial scepticism, he was now convinced there was a demand for home delivery of Greggs, but was still unsure how lucrative it could be.

The fact McDonald’s had turned a sub-£5 average spend into a c£10 average spend for delivery was encouraging, he said.

He added: “That to me says, customers want this. I wouldn’t have thought that three four years ago. I’m now convinced they want it. They question is can anyone make any money to satisfy that demands? I don’t know. We are watching it and will see.”