Bakery chain Greggs said its sales jumped in the first half of the year as customers turned to value meals amid the cost-of-living squeeze.

Its sales leapt by 27.1% in the 26 weeks to July 2 to total £694.5 million, compared with £546.2 million a year earlier.

But half-year profits remained largely flat year-on-year at £55.8 million compared with £55.5 million last year, due to the re-introduction of business rates, an increase in VAT and higher levels of cost inflation.

Read more: What's on the menu as Greggs opens its first ever drive-thru in County Durham

With soaring inflation putting a strain on people’s incomes, consumers are more likely to turn to lower-cost food and drink while on the go, Greggs said.

The chain – which has more than 2,200 shops in the UK – said it plans to extend its opening hours, shake up its menu options and offer more delivery services in order to gain more evening sales.

Greggs chief executive Roisin Currie said: “In a market where consumer incomes are under pressure, Greggs offers exceptional value for customers looking for food and drink on the go.

“We are well-positioned to navigate the widely publicised challenges affecting the economy and continue to have a number of exciting growth opportunities ahead, with a clear strategy for expansion.”

The company intends to have 500 shops open until 8pm by the end of the year to target more customers who want hot food in the evening.

She added that menu changes are “critical” and the chain is currently trialling new products including jacket potatoes, and dessert options like hot yum yums with salted caramel sauce and brownies with chocolate dipping sauce.

More than 1,000 of its shops deliver to customers through delivery app Just Eat despite people returning to shops after the pandemic.

The average customer spends around £10 on deliveries, roughly three times higher than they would in the shop, Ms Currie added.


Read next: