The chief executive of Greggs has announced he is to leave the snacks giant after nine years at the helm.
Roger Whiteside said he will step down at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May but will remain as an adviser until January next year.
He will be replaced by current retail and property director Roisin Currie, who has been with Greggs for 12 years and was previously an executive at Asda.
Mr Whiteside’s decision to leave came as the sausage roll specialist revealed that sales across its 2,181 stores remain strong, although they eased in the run-up to Christmas as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 raged.
Greggs also said supply chains are still strained and inflation remains high.
The company said: “As expected, inflationary pressures increased towards the end of 2021 and are likely to remain elevated in 2022.”
It added that stores saw “a strong performance in October being followed by more challenging conditions as consumers responded to precautionary messages relating to the new coronavirus variant”.
Overall, sales for the 12 months of 2021 hit £1.23 billion – a 51% increase on the £811 million in 2020 when stores were hit by the pandemic.
This was also a 5.3% rise on sales in 2019. However, on a two-year like-for-like basis, with new stores not included in the data, sales were down 3.3%.
In the final three months of the year sales were up 0.8% in 1,806 company-managed stores.
During the year Greggs said it opened 131 new sites, including 50 franchises, and closed 28 – leaving an estate of 2,181. Of those, 1,000 are now available for delivery on Just Eat.
The strong growth in the year also led to bosses announcing that planned pay awards will be brought forward.
While restrictions led to an easing of sales in the winter months, customers who did venture out snapped up 6.7 million mince pies and Greggs’ vegan festive bake sold well, the company said.
Mr Whiteside said: “We enter 2022 with a strong financial position that will support our ambitions to accelerate the rate of growth in our shop estate whilst developing new digital channels and extending the trading day.
“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 on the many attractive opportunities that lie ahead.”
Incoming chief Ms Currie said she believes the company continues to have a strong future.
Speaking of her appointment, she added: “Having been a senior executive in the business for 12 years I understand our values-driven approach and the contribution that our 25,000 colleagues make each day.
“We have created a plan for strong growth and further strategic development of Greggs and I look forward to driving this in the coming years.”