British baker and fast food retailer Greggs reported its first annual loss since listing on the stock exchange in 1984 after the COVID-19 pandemic hammered shopper numbers.
Greggs, best known for its sausage rolls, steak bakes and vegan snacks, said on Tuesday it made a year to 2 January pretax loss of £13.7 million ($19 million), having made a record profit of 108.3 million pounds in 2019.
Total sales fell 31% to £811 million.
A year ago Greggs, which trades from over 2,000 UK outlets, could do no wrong and its shares hit a record high.
But then the pandemic hit, shattering its business model which relies on a high volume of shop visits.
Bounce Back Hopes
While Greggs' shares lost a quarter of their value in 2020, they are up 23% so far in 2021 on hopes the rapid vaccination roll-out and an easing of restrictions will see trade bounce back.
The group said it had made a better-than-expected start to 2021 given the extent of lockdown conditions.
While like-for-like sales in company managed shops were down 36.2% year-on-year in 2020, they have recovered to be down 28.8% in the ten weeks to 13 March.
That figure improves to down 22.4% if Scotland, where shops have been closed to walk-in customers for the majority of the year to date, is excluded.
Greggs also said delivery sales were particularly strong, representing 9.6% of sales in the ten week period.