Greggs, the high street bakery operator, has reported a 0.8% rise in third quarter like-for-like sales helped by promotional activity and meal deals in what it described as a “tough environment”. The slight rise in third quarter performance compared with like-for-like sales growth of 0.4% during the company’s first half. As a result, for the 39 weeks to 1 October 2011, total sales grew by 4.6% and like-for-like sales by 0.6%. Total sales in the third quarter rose 5.4%, which the chain said reflected 53 net new store openings in the year to date and the success of promotional activity, such as breakfast meal deals. The group, which sells bread, sandwiches, savouries and cakes to over six million customers a week from 1,540 shops, said it was on track for a record 80 net new openings this year. The company said that new shops had been opened in a wide range of locations including the Westfield Stratford City development in London, which broke all of the chain’s previous records for a first day of trading. It recently opened a new coffee shop concept “Greggs Moment” in Newcastle upon Tyne, a one shop trial that it will evaluate over the coming months. The group said it continued to see “good growth” in breakfast sales, which benefited from the roll out of Fairtrade coffee to all of its shops. It also said that its two new bakeries were now operational following a £21m investment. Chief executive Ken McMeikan said: “The trading environment remains challenging, with consumers’ disposable incomes under pressure. We will continue to respond to this by offering our customers outstanding value through targeted promotional activity, supporting some of this investment through our continuing drive to improve business efficiencies. “Looking further ahead to 2012 there are signs of an easing in the rate of commodity price inflation in some areas, with the notable exception of energy. “Our investment and expansion programmes are on track and the financial position of the business is strong. We remain confident in the prospects for the group and our expectations for the year are unchanged.” At the same time, Greggs announce the appointment of Ian Durant as an independent non-executive director. Durant is currently chairman of Capital and Counties Properties PLC and a non-executive director and chairman of the audit committee of Greene King. The company said that Bob Bennett will retire as a director at its next Annual General Meeting, currently scheduled to be held on 16 May 2012. Bennett has served as a non-executive director at Greggs since 1 December 2003.