Greggs is exploring opportunities for growth through the drive-thru format, while also focusing on growing its evening offer, CEO Roisin Currie has said.

Speaking on a press call following its Q4 trading update, Currie said the food-to-go retailer saw a strong ending to its 2022 financial year with total sales of £1,513m, and like-for-like (lfl) sales in company-managed stores up 17.8% on FY21.

“It’s the first time we’ve hit that £1.5bn number,” she said. “We also opened 186 new shops, which is a record for us.”

Greggs is looking into opening 24-hour drive-thrus, as evening becomes its fastest growing day part. Meal deals and the pizza range has been popular with evening customers and offered a particularly compelling proposition for families.

“The pizza is a great proposition, and we also have chicken goujons, wedges, and a drink at a great price point,” Currie said. “We want to get Greggs at the front of customers’ minds when they think about an evening meal deal.”

While the operator put forth a price rise in late December – between 5-10p per product – it has no current plans for further rises but will keep reviewing prices.

“We’ll continue to work to mitigate price rises; we want to keep leading on value,” Currie added. “But given how unpredictable 2022 was – we hadn’t forecast Ukraine and the energy issues – we will keep things under review.”

While Greggs opened 186 new outlets last year, it also closed 39, and will continue to monitor site performance.

“The high street may not be where the new business is…we’ll take opportunities to move to where the footfall is.”

While footfall at city centre locations has been impacted by rail strikes, Currie said other parts of the portfolio “picked up” as customers stayed closer to home, with no significant strike impact due to the diversity of the portfolio.

Another key focus is the Greggs app, which has become increasingly popular for its rewards program as customers focus on value. Younger customers are engaging with the app on a growing basis, according to Currie.

“We’re trying to offer people more reasons to shop at Greggs, through different channels and different product ranges,” she said, referring to the expanding plant-based range.

The operator also announced a partnership with Primark last year, which has seen it open Greggs outlets in two Primark stores in London.

“Commercially [the profit share] is not significant, but it’s great for branding,” Currie said. “There’s nothing in the pipeline right now but we’ll look into other partnerships and see where that goes.”

It is also trialling stores at select supermarket locations.

Greggs plans to announce its 2022 full-year results in March.

“We expect the full year will be in line with expectations, which is a great place to be in,” Currie said. “Given our sales performance in Q4, I would have to surmise that [people are trading down to us].”