Greggs up 18% in expansive year

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The Independent Online
SHARES IN Greggs, the Newcastle-based bakery chain, jumped 9 per cent yesterday on news that it lifted profits before tax by 18 per cent, writes Robert Cole.

Taxable profits were pounds 7.1m for the year to 26 December, compared with pounds 6m in 1991. Greggs opened 13 new shops in the year, to end with 487 outlets. It also widened profit margins.

The profit performance was achieved against a backdrop of cut-throat competition among bread producers. Poor profit margins on the daily loaf pushed the bread maker Ranks Hovis McDougall into the arms of Tomkins, the takeover specialist, last autumn.

However, only 30 per cent of Greggs' sales are of bread. Mike Darrington, managing director, said its product was better quality and so was spared the worst ravages of the bread wars.

More damaging are the price rises of imported raw materials in the wake of the devaluation of sterling. The price of flour and of sugar-based products for Greggs' cake baking, may increase up to 15 per cent.

Growth in earnings per share, compared with profits, was slower because of a higher tax charge. Earnings were 40.6p against 36.8p. The shares rose from 492p to 535p, although few actually changed hands.

The dividend is 15p compared with 14.1p.