Greggs has reported the first loss in its history as a listed business for the 2020 financial year, posting a pre-tax loss of £13.7m in its preliminary financial results.
For the 53 weeks ended 2 January 2021 the group, which has more than 2,000 retail outlets throughout the country, reported total sales of £811.3m against £1.17b in 2019 with like-for-like sales in company-managed shops (excluding franchises) down 36.2%.
The group reported a £36.8m net cash position at the end of 2020 despite seeing an overall net cash outflow of £54.5 million in the year, having spent £9.3m on protective measures across the business including a virus testing programme at its manufacturing and logistics sites. Heading into 2021, the business was incurring monthly costs of around £1m towards additional cleaning, protective workwear and testing.
In 2020 Greggs opened 84 new shops and closed 56, as well as making 820 redundancies. The business still plans to open around 100 net new shops this year.
Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: "Greggs has made a better-than-expected start to 2021 given the extent of lockdown conditions and is well placed to participate in the recovery from the pandemic. It has a clear strategy to extend its digital capabilities and to grow further in new locations, channels and dayparts. These opportunities will benefit all of its stakeholders in the years to come.
"In a year like no other I believe that the Covid crisis has in many ways demonstrated the strength of Greggs. It has shown the resilience of our business model, but most of all the strength of our people who have worked hard throughout to maintain an essential service providing takeaway food to customers unable to work from home, many of whom were themselves key workers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our people, who can be proud of the part we played in our nation's time of need."
Chair Ian Durant confirmed that he would remain in his role, instead of stepping down as planned, to provide continuity of leadership with the company likely to address the succession of chief executive Roger Whiteside as he approaches retirement age. Durant said Whiteside was "flexible" regarding his retirement date.