March 3, 2020 / 3:55 PM / a month ago

British baker Greggs reheats overseas expansion recipe

LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - Britain’s Greggs is thinking about taking its successful fast-food store formula abroad, 12 years after abandoning a half-baked attempt to sell baguettes to the Belgians.

Greggs, which tapped into the British zeitgeist with vegan sausage rolls, ended 2019 with 2,050 shops in the United Kingdom and has built capacity for 2,500.

Its chief executive Roger Whiteside told reporters on Tuesday it sees the potential for “many more”.

Whiteside’s prediction came after Greggs published record results for the year, partly driven by the phenomenal success of its vegan-friendly sausage roll.

“The logical extension to that road map is that eventually - we’re saying beyond 2025 - there’ll come a point where we’ll need to look beyond the UK for growth or beyond Greggs for growth,” he said.

Greggs quit its loss-making, 10 shop, business in Belgium in 2008 to focus on its UK operations.

Whiteside, who has been CEO since 2013, said that venture failed under previous management because it was just a bakery concept.

The difference this time round is that Greggs is a much broader, better developed, food-on-the-go brand.

“We wouldn’t be as reliant on just that concentrated bakery offer because now we are strong in coffee, strong in sandwiches, strong in bakery, strong in different parts of the day - breakfast as well as lunch, and hopefully by the time 2025 comes along we’ll have developed a reputation at dinner too,” he said.

He would not be drawn on which countries Greggs might enter as it is yet to research it.

And Whiteside, 61, said he was unlikely to be around by the time Greggs does venture abroad again.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Alexander Smith

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