Greggs has confirmed that retail and property director Roisin Currie will succeed Roger Whiteside as chief executive of the bakery chain.
At the time of its 2020 results, the group said it would be looking for a successor for Whiteside as he approached retirement age. After considering internal and external candidates it was decided that Currie would be appointed to the role, effective from the date of the Company's Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May 2022.
Whiteside has given notice of his intention to retire and it has been agreed that he will step down from the board at the close of the AGM but will remain available to support the transition process until his notice expires on 5 January 2023.
In the interim period, Currie will be appointed as chief executive designate and as an executive director with effect from 1 February 2022.
Currie currently holds responsibility for Greggs' retail operations across the UK and its central support team. Additionally, she leads the development of the Greggs shop estate and its growing delivery business.
Prior to joining Greggs in 2010, she worked at Asda where she held people director roles responsible for the organisation's retail and distribution operations. She is also a trustee of the Greggs Foundation and chair of the Employers Forum For Reducing Re-offending.
Ian Durant, Greggs chairman, said: "Roisin has played a central role in the success of Greggs as it has developed as a multi-channel food-on-the-go business and I am delighted that she will lead the next phase of our growth as chief executive. She has deep experience of our culture and our strategic plan, and will lead with energy and character. Roger Whiteside has been an outstanding chief executive and I wish him well for the future. Roisin and I look forward to working with Roger to ensure a smooth transition."
Currie said: "I am delighted to be appointed as chief executive at a time when Greggs has so much potential ahead of it. Having been a senior executive in the business for twelve years I understand our values-driven approach and the contribution that our 25,000 colleagues make each day. We have created a plan for strong growth and further strategic development of Greggs and I look forward to driving this in the coming years."
Whiteside added: "Greggs is a fantastic organisation with a very strong team. Roisin is a great leader and has played a key role in the development of the business over many years, most recently in shaping our ambitious plans for further growth. I look forward to supporting her in the transition to her new role."
In its fourth quarter trading update, Greggs reported sales for the financial year to 1 January 2022 were £1.23b, a two-year increase of 5.3% compared with the equivalent period in 2019. Across 2021 two-year like-for-like sales in company-managed shops were 3.3% lower than seen in 2019. In the fourth quarter of 2021 two-year like-for-like sales in company-managed shops grew by 0.8%. A strong performance in October was followed by more challenging conditions as consumers responded to precautionary messages relating to the new coronavirus variant, as well as continued disruption to staffing and supply chains.
During the year, the group opened 131 new shops including 50 franchised units and closed 28, with an estate of 2,181 at the beginning of 2022, 375 of which were franchised shops and 1,000 of which offered delivery service.
Inflationary pressures increased towards the end of 2021 "and are likely to remain elevated in 2022", said Greggs, although the company added that it anticipated reporting a full year outcome slightly ahead of previous expectations.
Greggs ended 2021 with a cash position of £198m. While the group said conditions in the first few months of 2022 are "likely to remain challenging", it was confident the business was in a strong financial position to invest in growth opportunities, including ambitions to accelerate growth with plans to open around 150 net new stores this year.
Whiteside added: "We enter 2022 with a strong financial position that will support our ambitions to accelerate the rate of growth in our shop estate whilst developing new digital channels and extending the trading day. Whilst conditions in the first few months of 2022 are likely to remain challenging, we are confident that we are well placed to make progress on the many attractive opportunities that lie ahead."