Greggs sales climb 5.8% in second half

by Eric Schroeder
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LONDON — Greggs P.L.C., operator of the U.K.’s largest chain of bakeries specializing in sandwiches and other bakery-fresh food, said sales at outlets open at least a year rose 5.8% in the 28-weeks ended Dec. 29, up from a 4.6% increase in the first half of 2007.

Michael Darrington, group managing director, said Greggs opened 56 new stores and closed 24 during 2007, raising to 1,368 the total number of units operating under the Greggs and Bakers Oven names.

"We have continued to return cash to shareholders through our share buyback program," Mr. Darrington said. "During the second half we purchased for cancellation a total of 375,300 ordinary shares at an average price of £47.69 and an aggregate cost of £18.0 million. Despite the continuation of significant cost pressures on a number of our key ingredients, we look forward to reporting on a year of satisfactory progress when we make the preliminary announcement of our 2007 results, which is scheduled for March 11."

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