A BAKER whose history harks back to the days of selling eggs and yeast from a bicycle on North- East streets is pushing ahead with plans to tap into today’s drivethru culture, its boss has told The Northern Echo.

Greggs is endeavouring to serve customers behind the wheel.

Boss Roger Whiteside yesterday confirmed the company has identified a number of locations for potential sites as it seeks to secure a UK-wide portfolio and smash an overall 2,000-store target.

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The drive-thru culture, traditionally associated with the US, has grown in the UK over a number of years, with accustomed operators, such as burger chain McDonald’s, now joined by firms including coffee chain Costa.

Mr Whiteside said Newcastle-headquartered Greggs, which already has more than 1,600 shops and first revealed its motoring sector plans earlier this year, has been lifted by customers’ response to an initial opening in Manchester.

He said officials are still assessing possible locations, citing the property market as a guiding factor in its plans, but confirmed its venture over the Pennines, which trades until 9pm, won’t be standing alone for long.

He told the Echo: “There is a property pipeline and we are looking at it. There are other competitors out there but we’ve got a format we are happy with.

“You will see more drive-thrus, but you aren’t going to see a flood of them. If you look at the pipeline, they are all different shapes and sizes and on busy A-roads; they could be anywhere.”

The change is a reflection of the shift in focus at the business, which began when John Gregg sold eggs and yeast from his bike to Newcastle families in the 1930s.

Mr Whiteside has led the company’s charge away from its traditional bread-making past to the food-on-the-go present in recent years, which has seen staple savoury goods, such as sausage rolls and pasties, complemented by coffee, low-calorie sandwiches, salads, drinks and fruit pots, and an extended breakfast menu.

That drive is continuing to pay dividends, with latest financial results, released yesterday, showing total sales grew by 8.6 per cent and like-for-like sales rose five per cent in the 13 weeks to September 30.

Those successes were propelled by strong interest in Greggs’ breakfast menu, as well as its Balanced Choice-branded healthier eating range.

“We are not seeing the foodon- the-go market coming under pressure”, said Mr Whiteside, who added the baker will “fight tooth and nail” to limit any price increases caused by inflationaryinduced food ingredient cost pressures.

“There is nobody alongside us offering what we offer at the value we offer.”