Bakery retailer Greggs announced this morning that group sales in the 19 weeks to May 9 increased by 5.2 per cent, including like-for-like sales growth of 2 per cent.

The results were supported by a strong Easter trading period and the company is also rationalising its business, selling off its small Belgian operation and consolidating its two fascias under the Greggs brand.

In chairman Derek Netherton’s interim management statement for the company’s 1,400 retail outlets he said Easter sales were significantly up on 2008. “Our shops sold over 2.3 million hot cross buns during 2009, an increase of 10 per cent compared with the previous year. During recent weeks there have been some encouraging signs of greater stability in customer numbers,” he said.

Performance in the year to date remained in line with expectations, said Netherton, who added that margins had been maintained despite ingredient cost rises, which had been offset by reduced energy costs.

“Our programme to create a single Greggs brand in the UK is on track,” stressed Netherton. “In all, 35 of our 160 Bakers Oven shops have now been converted to the Greggs fascia, with encouraging results. We have also completed the sale of our 10 Belgian shops to Foodmakers. Our other plans to centralise and simplify the business are progressing well, and our financial position remains strong.” 

The company launched the latest phase of its national TV advertising campaign last month, emphasising quality and value for money.