Vegan Sausage Rolls Drive Big Sales at Greggs

(Bloomberg) --

U.K. sandwich chain Greggs Plc surged after predicting that sales and profit will be “materially higher” than expectations this year as it gets a boost from a new vegan sausage roll.

The company, whose no-frills stores are a fixture of Britain’s shopping streets and train stations, said growth is being driven by publicity around its new plant-based offering, a twist on the U.K. staple for carnivores.

After a gain off as much as 16% Tuesday morning in London, the shares are up 96% for the past 12 months.

With a 15% sales gain in the first 19 weeks of the year, Greggs has shown there’s a market for vegan fare beyond the upscale shoppers who drive their Range Rovers to Whole Foods. The new roll, which boasts 96 layers of puff pastry and a Quorn filling, was launched in January at a price of 1 pound ($1.30), 5 pence more than the chain’s traditional meat version.

Despite its down-to-earth image, the company launched the roll with a slick social media campaign that struck gold when breakfast TV host Piers Morgan blasted the product in a tweet that went viral, giving the company free publicity.

Sales have accelerated from the early weeks of the year when demand for the new roll outstripped supply, the company said. Increased store traffic is also lifting sales of other products.

The chain said it expects further sales gains this year despite tougher comparisons against a year earlier as it defies the gloom that’s afflicted other U.K. retailers.

Next on the vegan menu is a new Mexican bean and sweet potato wrap, Greggs said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.