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Greggs appoints new chief executive

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UK baker Greggs has appointed a new chief executive, with retail and property director Roisin Currie to replace Roger Whiteside in the top job.

Whiteside, who has led the company since 2013 and is due to retire, will step down in May but will support Currie until January 2023.

Chair Ian Durant said that Currie, who joined Greggs from Asda in 2010, “has deep experience of our culture and our strategic plan” and would “lead with energy and character”.

The company on Thursday confirmed plans to open 150 stores this year as it shrugged off staffing issues, supply chain disruptions and uncertainty from the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Greggs posted £1.2bn in total sales for 2021, 5.3 per cent higher than in 2019, helped by the opening of 131 shops in the past year. Two-year like-for-like sales were down 3.3 per cent.

The seller of pastries and sandwiches, which has faced challenges in the supply of ingredients, said that its full-year results would be slightly ahead of previous expectations.

“Greggs has made great progress in 2021 despite tough trading conditions,” said Whiteside. “Whilst conditions in the first few months of 2022 are likely to remain challenging, we are confident that we are well placed to make progress.”

In a fourth-quarter trading update on Thursday, Greggs said that the emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus had proved “challenging” for its 2,181 shops, but that a strong performance in October helped it reach a 0.8 per cent increase in like-for-like sales compared with the same quarter in 2019.

Greggs will make an additional payout to shareholders of £30m-40m in 2022, saying it planned to maintain its “progressive dividend policy”.

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