Greggs signals faith in marketing despite financial hit from Covid

The bakery chain has identified digital technology as “the key opportunity” to grow market share by increasing customer loyalty, menu choice and reach across multiple channels.

Greggs has revealed plans to increase investment in digital channels as it doubles down on its marketing strategy, after recording its first-ever loss as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

The bakery chain recorded a drop in sales of 30.5% to £811.3m in 2020 and posted a pre-tax loss of £13.7m, significantly down from the £108.3m profit it made in 2019, according to its latest financial update.

Greggs launched its Next Generation Greggs programme in January 2020, with the aim of increasing customer loyalty, choice and access to its products across multiple channels. The strategy was hooked on four core pillars: customer experience, food, supply chain and support teams.

As part of the strategy, Greggs will continue to roll out delivery across its shops through its partner Just Eat, with delivery accounting for a 5.5% rise in company-managed shop sales in the fourth quarter of 2020 alone.

The business will also bring its click-and-collect service together with its Greggs Rewards loyalty scheme in a new app, which is to be launched in the second quarter of 2021.

Greggs has a clear strategy to extend its digital capabilities and to grow further in new locations, channels and dayparts.

Roger Whiteside, Greggs

According to Gregg’s CEO Roger Whiteside, marketing continues to play a “key role” in driving awareness among the brand’s target customer groups.

The business claims to have also invested in a stronger team to compete in digital channels and to develop its customer relationship management capabilities, with new systems to be deployed during 2021.

Greggs praises marketing’s ‘key role’ in profit boom

However, Greggs says its shop network remains “key” to its growth ambitions, with plans to open around 100 new shops in the year ahead. The bakery chain has also identified coffee, hot food, home baking and vegan alternatives as product categories it will be focusing on for growth.

“While we cannot escape the short-term financial impact of Covid on our business, we have been determined to keep our strategic plan on track,” says Whiteside.

“[Greggs] has a clear strategy to extend its digital capabilities and to grow further in new locations, channels and dayparts.”

Greggs was named the Marketing Week Masters Brand of the Year in 2019 for its success in growing brand awareness and addressing challenges around brand consideration.

The turnaround saw the brand’s pre-tax profits rise 15% to £82.6m in its 2018 financial year, making sales of just over £1bn for the first time.