Greggs to open 16th shop in Northern Ireland
Bakery chain Greggs is preparing to open its 16th Northern Ireland in just over two years, with plans to add more outlets by the end of 2018.
The latest shop is currently being built in the Showgrounds Retail Park in Omagh, in a move expected to bring with it £1m of investment to the busy shopping zone in the Co Tyrone market town.
The unit was given full planning permission last year, but Greggs' involvement has just been confirmed.
The original report from the applicants, CCP IV Omagh, suggested that between 20 and 25 jobs could be created.
A spokesperson for Greggs said: "We can confirm we are interested in bringing Greggs to Omagh and we will clarify shop location and opening date as soon as possible."
However, Co Tyrone engineering firm Kenwells, which is carrying out the construction of the unit, confirmed Greggs will be the tenants.
Greggs plc has also submitted a planning application to erect shop signage at the same location.
It will bring to 16, the number of Greggs outlets in Northern Ireland since it opened its first company-managed shop in the Boucher Retail Car Park in south Belfast.
In 2015, the Belfast Telegraph revealed the company's plan to open up to 50 shops here.
Yesterday 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.
Greggs 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.
It added an eighth Belfast store in June, opening on Botanic Avenue, but now Greggs has cast its eye westward, with its first outlet in Co Tyrone.
The current construction project for the Omagh store will see three car parking spaces sacrificed. However the plan provides for the construction of 17 new spaces as compensation.
It will leave the Showgrounds Retail Park, which was sold for £27m in 2015, with 368 parking spaces.
Meanwhile, the latest financial results released by Greggs last week has attracted the interest of investors.
Total sales for the 26 weeks ending June 30 were up 5.2% to £476m, representing like-for-like sales growth of 1.5%.
Underlying operating profits, excluding profits from the sale of property and a £1.9m restructuring charge, came in at £25.7m, down from £27.6m the year before.
Greggs increased its ordinary interim dividend by 3.9% to 10.7p per share.
Following the announcement, Greggs' share price shot up by 7.5% or 72.5p to 1,034p.
Greggs said it had delivered good growth in its newer product categories such as hot drinks, breakfasts and healthier ranges.
However, it remains cautious about its outlook, given the difficulties faced by both high street retailers and restaurant groups.