* 19 weeks like-for-like sales up 27.4%
* Outcome flattered by weak comparison
* Maintains full year profit expectations
* Shares down 1%
LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - British baker and fast food chain
Greggs warned on Monday of increasing cost pressures but
said markets were so uncertain that it had given up on providing
forecasts for cost inflation.
Greggs, known for its sausage rolls, steak bakes, vegan
snacks and sweet treats, said that while expected cost inflation
for 2022 had increased from a March forecast of 6% to 7%, it was
not providing a new prediction.
"There's just too much uncertainty, we've not seen markets
like this," CEO Roger Whiteside told Reuters.
"The combination of restricted supply, war (in Ukraine)
impact and demand recovery post-COVID is taking us into
territory we've not encountered before," he said.
Other companies in the sector, including Associated British
Foods, Tesco and Sainsbury's, have all
highlighted increasing cost pressures.
After reporting a rise in first quarter sales, Greggs said
its profit expectations for the full year were unchanged.
Shares in Greggs were down 1% at 0815 GMT, extending 2022
losses to 34.5%.
Greggs had warned in March that it did not expect material
profit growth in the current year on the 145.6 million pounds
($178.2 million) made in 2021 due to the surging cost of raw
materials, energy and staff.
"Looking ahead, market-wide cost pressures have been
increasing and consumer incomes will clearly be under pressure
in the second half of the year," it said.
However, Whiteside said Greggs was not yet seeing any
changes in customer purchases that would reflect the growing
pressure on spending in the United Kingdom.
He said consumers might be switching into Greggs because of
its value offer. It has not raised prices since January.
Greggs' like-for-like sales in company-managed shops grew by
27.4% in the first 19 weeks of 2022 - a figure flattered by
comparison with COVID-19 restricted trading conditions in the
same period of 2021.
Like-for-like sales growth in the most recent 10 weeks to
May 14, when pandemic lockdowns in 2021 were easing, had
averaged 15.8% and it expected this figure to continue to
normalize as it compares with more robust trading periods in
Sales in larger cities and in office locations continued to
lag the rest of the estate but transport locations had shown a
marked increase in activity in recent weeks.
Greggs opened a net 43 new shops in the 19 week period,
taking the total to 2,224. It sees potential for at least 3,000.
Whiteside retires on Tuesday after eight years at the helm
and will be succeeded by retail director Roisin Currie.
($1 = 0.8169 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton, Jason Neely
and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)