Greggs has announced the departure of his former boss, as the bakery chain raised profit expectations for the full year after strong sales last quarter despite the appearance of the Omicron variant.
Roger Whiteside will step down in May after nine years at the helm, and will be replaced by Gregg’s director of properties and retail, Roisin Currie, the company said today.
Whiteside, who has run Greggs since 2013, has been responsible for opening a number of new stores, adding new ranges, including the now popular vegan sausage roll, and raising the company’s stock price to less than £ 5 in 2013. at over £ 33 today.
In demand: Greggs sold 6.7 million mince pies during the holiday season
His departure comes as one of Britain’s most beloved bakery chains revealed that sales at its 2,181 stores remained strong in the latest quarter, despite declining in the run-up to Christmas as Omicron rolled out. .
Greggs said comparable sales in the final three months of the year were 0.8 percent above the same period in 2019, thanks to the sale of 6.7 million mince pies and strong demand for their holiday baking. vegan during the holiday season.
However, for all of 2021, comparable sales were down 3.3 percent compared to pre-Covid, as the lockdowns hit commerce earlier in the year.
Sales across all stores, old and new, during the 12 months of 2021 reached £ 1.23 trillion, an increase of 51% from £ 811 million in 2020 and 5.3% earlier. of 2019.
The company said it now expects full-year earnings to slightly exceed expectations.
In light of the strong performance, it expects to pay a special dividend of around £ 30 million to £ 40 million to shareholders in the first half of the year.
Despite the payout and strong sales, Greggs’ stock was in the red today, perhaps reflecting Whiteside’s departure.
“Greggs has been on a phenomenal ride for the past few years, with sales and share prices soaring,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, which owns shares in the company.
“The market is disappointed by the departure of Roger Whiteside, who oversaw this remarkable performance. As we say goodbye to the man who oversaw the triumph of the vegan sausage roll, eyes must look to the new times that are coming. ‘
Shares in Greggs have rebounded strongly since the pandemic-induced collapse in March 2020, and they have risen about 85 percent in the past year alone.
The successor, Roisin Currie, will be faced with the task of continuing to grow the company despite supply chain problems and fewer office workers grabbing their cakes due to a possible permanent shift to hybrid work.
Greggs shares have rallied strongly since the March 2020 crash and are up 85% from last year.
Outgoing CEO Roger Whiteside has raised Greggs’ share price from less than £ 5 in 2013 to more than £ 33 today.
The FTSE 250 company said that supply chains are still tense and inflation remains high, with prices expected to continue to grow this year.
“ However, Greggs’ footprint in more suburban and residential areas, as well as urban and urban centers, means that it could capture a decent portion of so-called ‘take-home food’ spending, ” noted Russ Mold, chief investment officer at AJ Bell.
“The market can be reassured by the consistency that an internal replacement implies, as straying too far from the successful plan set out by Whiteside would seem like a mistake.”
Concerns Ahead: Greggs said supply chains are still tight and inflation will remain high
Currie, who has been with Greggs for 12 years, was previously an executive at Asda. He said he believes the company continues to have a strong future.
Speaking of her appointment, she added: ‘Having been a senior executive in the business for 12 years, I understand our values-based approach and the contribution that our 25,000 colleagues make every day.
“We have created a plan for strong growth and further strategic development for Greggs and I look forward to pushing it forward in the years to come.”
Outgoing boss Whiteside said the company had entered 2022 in a “ strong financial position ”, allowing it to continue to grow its store equity.
“While conditions in the first months of 2022 are likely to remain challenging, we are confident that we are well positioned to advance the many attractive opportunities that lie ahead,” he added.
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