Opportunities to open new sites in travel hub locations are “absolutely critical” to Greggs’ growth plans, CEO Roisin Currie tells MCA.

Speaking on a media call following the food to go retailer’s trading update yesterday (16 May), Currie said that it was looking to progress its airport openings, with Glasgow and Cardiff having opened in the period and Gatwick due to open this summer.

While traditional high street locations continue to be part of its portfolio, she explained that with the expansion of its digital channels, Greggs has sought to relocate some of its existing shops to larger units.

“You might see a closure on the high street in one part of it, but we have opened a bigger Greggs further down that can service delivery, click and collect and may also have seating,” she says.

Currie believes the business is also still underrepresented in a number of retail parks, and is working “extremely hard” to remedy this.

“In terms of some of the franchise opportunities there is still a great opportunity for roadside locations. It’s about trying to make is as convenient as possible for customers to access Greggs.”

While Greggs doesn’t break out sales figures for its 450+ franchise units – company-operated locations achieved a 17.1% increase in like-for-like (lfl) sales in the first 19 weeks of 2023 – Currie told MCA that its franchise sites “continue to do extremely well for us”, and “also enjoy a high degree of lfl growth”.

The business normally partners with franchisees in locations where it can’t open a company-operated site – particularly petrol forecourts or service stations.

“They are also very strong for us which is why we continue to grow that franchise pipeline as part of our new shop estate,” she adds.

“When we talk about a 150 net new shops for this year, we believe that probably slightly more than a third of those will be new franchise opportunities.”

Greggs has also just opened its fourth Tasty by Greggs café – in Primark Bristol last week. It has another two café openings in the pipeline, in Liverpool and Leeds, and then the business will “pause at that point and take stock” to ascertain whether there are any other Primark shops that would be suitable for a Tasty by Greggs.

In addition to scaling up the business, Greggs said menu development continued to support its strategic growth objectives.

The business has been working to increase the number of plant-based and healthier menu items and is about the launch a new range of flatbreads.

The first of the new items, a Mexican chicken flatbread, will launch this week, followed by a Chicken Shawarma flatbread and vegan tandoori chicken-free option. It will also be introducing a new sweet chilli chicken noodle salad box this summer.

Greggs also begun a small trial of made-to-order wraps, which can be ordered through its click and collect service. Currently available in a few sites in Newcastle, it will soon be rolled out to another 40 shops in the north east.