THE recent GDP expansion failed to resolve the are we/aren’t heading for triple-dip recession argument.

Perhaps the answer lies in pies.

In these turbulent times, Greggs the bakers has been an exemplar of stability and growth. So, it came as a shock to hear it issue a profits warning on Monday.

Is gloomy news from one if the biggest success stories on the high street final proof that talk of recovery is half baked?

Roger Whiteside, who recently took over as chief executive of the Newcastle- based firm, is worried that many of his customers have been seeing other people – blaming what he referred to as “promiscuous” shoppers for an unexpected fall in sales.

Following the admission that the bakery chain would miss profit goals – its first such warning since 2008 – Mr Whiteside said the main cause of Greggs’ problems was customers being drawn away by rivals or choosing to eat at home. He insisted the horse meat scandal had not affected the nation’s appetite for steak bakes and sausage rolls.

“Customers still rate us number one for breakfast and lunch. But they are eating out less and when they do they are being more promiscuous. There has been a compounding effect, which means people have to be very careful about the pound in their pocket,” said Mr Whiteside, who succeeded Ken McMeikan in March.

He said the company’s stores in traditional high street locations were suffering at the same time sites in railway stations, commuter hubs and motorway service stations – were trading well.

That means 75 per cent of 250 new stores opening this year will be located away from the high street. The new boss is yet to put his stamp on the business but he hinted that he could announce measures to give the firm a life when he updates reporters in the summer.

His predecessor, a veteran of the Falklands conflict, who now works for international catering firm Brakes, will be a tough act to follow.

Mr McMeikan led last year’s campaign against plans by George Osborne to impose 20 per cent VAT on pasties.

Under his stewardship, the company overhauled Burger King and McDonald’s to become Britain’s favourite foodon- the-go retailer.

He made no apologies for Greggs’ dominance, which spelt the end for scores of rivals, including Durham’s Peters Bakery, and ensured you can grab a taste of the North-East on nearly every high street in the country.

IT is two years since the world’s first conservatory company went into administration, with the loss of about 200 jobs. Darlington-based Amdega, which manufactured and sold conservatories costing up to £150,000, went out of business with nearly 200 jobs lost. The firm, established in 1874, was taken over by multi-national private-equity group Endless in 2010 before going into administration nine months later.

Anyone who was employed by Amdega, or who was a customer when the company went into administration and would like to talk about their experience, can call Steven Hugill or myself on 01325-505097.