Greggs has announced plans to open 100 new stores this year, despite making its first loss in 36 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bakery chain announced a pre-tax loss of £13.7 million in 2020, compared with a £108.3 million profit a year earlier.
The sausage roll purveyor has seen sales drop from £1.17 billion to £811.3 million after its stores were forced to close their doors for much of the year due to the ongoing health crisis.
Greggs has not reported a loss since it became a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1984.
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However, the company has said it remains positive for the future and has committed to opening 100 new stores this year.
Delivery services and a partnership with Just Eat helped to offset some of the falls, the company said, with 9.6 per cent of total sales in the first 10 weeks of this year now coming from deliveries.
Despite this, the latest lockdowns and restrictions since the start of the year have affected overall sales, with like-for-like sales down 28.8 per cent in the 10 weeks to 13 March.
Stores have remained open for takeaways, as they are classed as essential retailers, but city centre locations and travel hub sites have seen substantial falls due to the government’s stay-at-home orders.
Excluding sales in Scotland, where stores have been closed to walk-in customers for the majority of the year, like-for-like sales were down 22.4 per cent during this period.
The company said the results for 2020 were slightly better than expected, considering the lockdowns, adding that it benefited from the furlough scheme and business rates holiday.
Bosses added that they have access to a new £100 million revolving credit facility to fund further expansion beyond the 2,078 stores currently in operation.