Belfast Telegraph

Bakery giant Greggs plans to continue expansion with ninth Belfast store

Investment: Roger Whiteside
Investment: Roger Whiteside

By Mark McConville

Bakery chain Greggs is set to open a new store in the heart of Belfast city centre, creating 10 jobs.

The firm has submitted plans to move into a former Boots chemist site at Great Northern Mall on Great Victoria Street, close to the Europa bus centre.

The move will require a change of use from a retail unit into an outlet that allows the sale of food and drinks as well as consumption on the premises. The new store will be the ninth Greggs outlet in Belfast.

Submitted plans project that 10 staff will be hired and an average of 300 people will attend the store on a daily basis.

Greggs, led by chief executive Roger Whiteside, now has 16 stores across Northern Ireland as a whole. Its most recent opening was in Omagh's Showgrounds Retail Park.

The chain initially focused its attentions on Belfast, opening seven stores in as many months.

But in the past 18 months, the food company has spread across Northern Ireland at a rapid pace, adding stores in Ballymena, Bangor, Newry, Lisburn, Coleraine, Larne and Portadown.

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The chain has said that the introduction of a vegan sausage roll has boosted performance.

In 2015, the Belfast Telegraph revealed the company's plan to open up to 50 shops here.

When the store in Omagh was anounced last year a spokesperson for the company said it is seeking more sites around the province.

"We are continuing to look for further opportunities to open more shops in Northern Ireland this year and will share additional information as soon as we are in a position to do so," the spokesperson said.

At the end of July, it announced that pre-tax profits for the 26 weeks to June 29 rose more than 52% to £36.7m.

Underlying profits, which stripped out property gains and a £4m restructuring charge, were up 58% to £40.6m. Total sales were up 14.7% to £546m.

Chief executive Roger Whiteside added: "Given the strength of our year and the outlook, we have decided to increase investment in strategic initiatives in the second half of the year to help to deliver an even stronger customer proposition and further growth in the years ahead.

"Our expectations for underlying profits for the year as a whole remain unchanged."

Greggs recently launched a new Hot 2 Go range, which includes potato wedges, chicken goujons and a veggie breakfast box.

Belfast Telegraph