Greg’s boss has revealed that he has been forced to raise prices on some products due to rising material and labor costs.
Roger Whiteside said that some stores have closed due to staff shortages and supply chain problems due to the rising rate of Omicron infections.
He said the effect of the variant has been as bad as the so-called pandemic, in which hundreds of thousands of people were forced to self-isolate after coming in close contact with infected people.
Mr Whiteside said: “This is what it feels like during the pandemic. Stores are closing as a result – not necessarily all day.
“This usually means that a shop may have to close early or open late, or in some cases not open at all because they can’t get the team together.”
His remarks came after the boss revealed that he would step down from the role later in the year after stepping down from the position after nine years and retiring from the business world.
The boss said: “After all, the time had to come. I’ve always said I want to retire before 65, so by the time I go I’ll be 64 and a half, so I’m almost done.
“I’m going through a full retirement and will spend the rest of my days with friends and family and doing things that I really enjoy.
“You will not see me plural (becoming non-executive) or any president.
“I’ve kept my options open thinking about it, but at the end of the day, I have a lot of other things I want to do.
“I’ve spent most of my life doing business things and I want to go on adventure before the last chapter – dementia, that’s what I say.”
Boss said that he wants to spend more time with his young grandson as well as on other activities.
He said: “I want to spend more time on the golf course, learning a musical instrument, learning about motor racing cars and skiing. Stuff like that, so nothing earth-shattering.”
“A year ago I picked up a guitar and said ‘I’m going to learn this thing’. This was my hardest challenge ever. There won’t be any public performances, I can guarantee that.”
He will hold the position until May before handing over the reins to retail and property director Roisin Curry.
His nine-year tenure came to a close as the company revealed that sales across its 2,181 stores remained strong – though he eased the run-up to Christmas as the Omicron version of Covid-19 raged.
Greggs said it saw “more challenging conditions following a strong performance in October as consumers responded to precautionary messages related to the new coronavirus version”.
Overall, sales reached £1.23 billion for the 12 months of 2021 – a 51% increase from £811 million in 2020 when stores were hit by the pandemic.
This was an increase of 5.3% on sales in 2019 as well. However, on a similar two-year basis, sales declined by 3.3%, with new stores not included in the data.
Sales at 1,806 company-managed stores grew 0.8% in the last three months of the year.
During the year Greggs said it opened 131 new sites, including 50 franchises, and closed 28 – leaving 2,181 assets. 1,000 of them are now available for delivery on Just Eat.
Strong growth in the year also prompted owners to announce that Planned Pay Rewards would be brought forward.
And while restrictions eased sales in the winter months, customers who did venture found a good 6.7 million mince pies and Greggs’ Vegan Festive Bakes, the company said.
On price increases, Mr Whiteside said: “We try and absorb as much cost increases as we can and then put through price increases where we can’t avoid it, and we’ve done that this year — 5p here, 10p there – where we have been unable to absorb all the price increases imposed on us. The question is whether inflationary pressures ease or go up.”