January 9, 2019 / 7:40 AM / 7 days ago

UPDATE 1-UK baker Greggs nudges up profit forecast after strong finish to 2018

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LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - British baker Greggs nudged up its 2018 profit forecast to at least 88 million pounds ($112 million) after demand for its festive bakes, mince pies, hot drinks and breakfast items led to a “very strong” finish to the year.

Greggs, which launched a vegan version of its popular sausage roll last Thursday, said like-for-like sales in its company-managed shops grew 5.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

The company, which opened 149 new shops last year to take its total to 1,953, in November upgraded its pretax profit forecast to at least 86 million pounds, sending its shares to a high of 1,442 pence.

Chief Executive Roger Whiteside said Greggs had delivered “a very strong finish to 2018 despite the well-publicised challenges in the consumer sector”.

“This performance was broad-based, reflecting the strength of our range of freshly-prepared food and drinks, and the strategic changes that we have made in recent years to focus more effectively on the food-on-the-go market,” he said on Wednesday.

$1 = 0.7854 pounds Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton

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