British bakery and fast food chain Greggs returned to a first half profit after a strong recovery in sales in the wake of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, and said it expected annual profit to be slightly ahead of its previous expectations.
Greggs, best known for its sausage rolls, steak bakes, vegan snacks and sweet treats, said on Tuesday it made an underlying pretax profit of £55.5 million ($77.1 million) in the six months to 3 July versus a pretax loss of £64.5 million in the same period last year.
Total sales were £546.2 million, up from £300.6 million.
While Greggs' shops were allowed to stay open during COVID-19 lockdowns, the crisis disrupted its business model, which relies on a high volume of customer visits.
Like-for-like sales compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic impacted trading, were down 9.2%.
However, they have been positive since non-essential retail stores re-opened, driving increased customer numbers.
"Whilst there continue to be general uncertainties in the market, given our recent performance we now expect full-year profit to be slightly ahead of our previous expectation," said Chief Executive Roger Whiteside.
In May, Greggs said annual profit could reach 2019's record level of £108 million.
The group is also paying an interim dividend of 15 pence, its first payment since 2019.