UPDATE 2 — Greggs, the Newcastle-based bakery and “food-on-the-go” retailer, said its sales rose 7.2% to a record £1.029 billion in 2018.
Pre-tax profit excluding exceptional items rose to £89.8 million from £81.8 million in 2017.
Total ordinary dividend per share is up 10.5% to 35.7p — and Greggs said it currently expects to declare a special dividend with its interim results.
Shares in Greggs have risen more than 40% so far this year to give the firm a current stock market value of around £1.8 billion.
The firm said it has made a “very strong start to the year” with company-managed shop like-for-like sales up by 9.6% in the seven weeks to February 16, 2019.
Greggs said the “exceptional” sales performance has been helped in part by publicity surrounding the launch of its vegan-friendly sausage roll.
Greggs CEO Roger Whiteside said: “2018 was a year that tested the resilience of Greggs’ business model and demonstrated the benefits of our strategic investment programme.
“The first half was significantly impacted by extreme weather but once this returned to normal our underlying strengths helped us recover the lost ground and deliver results for the year that exceeded our expectations.
“Whilst there are significant uncertainties in the months ahead, Greggs has started 2019 in great form, helped in part by the publicity surrounding the launch of our vegan-friendly sausage roll.
“We hope to continue benefiting from this strong momentum during the first half of 2019 before facing stronger comparatives later in the year.
“We have a strong financial position which we plan to use to invest in Greggs’ potential for further growth, whilst also delivering good returns for shareholders.”