Bakery chain Greggs expects to report a significant rise in operating profits during the first half of 2014.
The food-on-the-go retailer, which is headquartered in Newcastle, said it was in line to report profits of £16-17m in it interim results, to be published on July 30, compared to £11.5m in 2013.
In a trading statement, Greggs said: “We have continued to trade well through the first half of the year.
“Our total sales for the 26 weeks to 28 June 2014 grew by 3.1%. Like-for-like sales in our own shops grew by 3.2% over the same period.
“Whilst our year-on-year performance has benefited from comparison with a period of weak trading in 2013, sales growth is also being driven by initiatives that have further improved our products, availability, service and value.
“During the first 26 weeks we completed 131 shop refurbishments, in line with our plan to refit around 200 shops during 2014. We also opened 26 new shops and closed 36 shops, giving a total of 1,661 shops trading at 28 June.
“We expect shop numbers for the year as a whole to be broadly flat.”
The company has also disposed of a number of surplus freehold properties this year, realising property profits of £1.4m, compared to £0.2m last year.
The statement continued: “Given the encouraging trading performance in the first half of the year, along with good cost control and the benefit of property disposal profits, we expect to show operating profits of around £16-17m when we report our interim results on July 30, 2014 (2013: £11.5m).
“Sales comparables strengthen in the second half although the risk of further input cost inflation appears to be reducing.
“Overall, we expect to deliver an improved financial result for the year and further progress against our strategic plan.”