Greggs' Switch to Hip Vegan Rolls Is Timed to U.K. Sales Rebound

(Bloomberg) -- Greggs Plc jumped to a record in London trading after the U.K. bakery chain gave a bullish sales update, providing some relief to the country’s beleaguered shopping districts.

Boosted by year-end demand for its festive pastries, Greggs raised its outlook for full-year adjusted pretax profit to at least 88 million pounds ($112 million), topping analysts’ estimates. The shares rose as much as 8.3 percent, giving the company a market value of about 1.5 billion pounds.

Greggs' Switch to Hip Vegan Rolls Is Timed to U.K. Sales Rebound

The baker, which opened 149 new shops last year, has consistently outshone its broader brick-and-mortar retail peers in the U.K., which are suffering from online competition. The U.K.’s fast-food sector overall has been a rare bright spot, with coffee and food chains Costa Coffee and Pret A Manger being acquired by Coca-Cola Co. and JAB, respectively, last year.

Last week, the new Greggs vegan sausage roll went on sale amid a barrage of publicity, from a slick promotional video to a spat with the journalist and former CNN host Piers Morgan. In the year ahead, the company “will continue to innovate with products designed to reflect changing consumer tastes,” Chief Executive Officer Roger Whiteside said in a statement Wednesday.

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