Greggs: marketer 2 marketer

What did other marketers have to ask Ken McMeikan, Greggs chief executive?

John Timpson

John Timpson, chair at Timpson, asks: Greggs has great retail sites – so much so I am always happy when I see one of our new shops is near to one. How are you able to manage your property portfolio so well and how are you going to make sure your shops are still in the best trading positions 20 years from now?

Ken McMeikan (KM): We have a great in-house property team that works with agents around the country. We have been successful at making sure every year we close and re-site between 15 and 30 stores. Normally we enter into a 10-year lease, but in that time the consumer may have moved on and you have to follow the customer. We also recognised four or five years ago the need to move into new locations such as retail parks, industrial parks and airports.


Chris Burggraeve, chief marketing officer at AB InBev and president of the World Federation of Advertisers, asks: The secret of high quality beer, like bread, is hidden in its yeast. Brewmasters and top bakers tend to keep their secrets close to their hearts. Yet how could Greggs’ secret yeast play a greater role in its marketing mix and quality perception over the next 60 years?

KM: We have tried to do this in a more subtle way by launching the ‘home of fresh baking’ marketing campaign but without giving away our secret ingredients. The big opportunity for us is to think about how to get across that [taste] to people who haven’t tried it. Rather than saying “this is the secret” it is about how we get more customers trying Greggs food.

We are very proud of the products we make and don’t want to give anyone too much insight into how we do it.

However, we have tried to be more open over the past four to five years, even taking a journalist around our bakery, which we may not have done in the past.

The great challenge for Greggs is that half the UK population couldn’t get to a Greggs today. That tells you why opening new shops is the best way of letting new people discover what that secret is and making us much more accessible.

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