It started with healthy salads, yoghurt pots, low-calorie sandwiches and flatbreads. Then they moved on to gluten-free Balanced Choice soup, caramel lattes and focaccia-style pizza.
Now Greggs – once a byword for unhealthy eating due to the popularity of its sausage rolls, steak bakes and sugary doughnuts – is considering selling vegan sandwiches.
Currently, there is a petition running to get Greggs to add vegan sausage rolls to the menu.
However, Roger Whiteside, chief executive, claims that it’s too difficult creating a vegan sausage roll that tastes great.
“We’re aware people would like those types of options in some of our savoury categories and things, but they’re more difficult to achieve, frankly, because what we’re looking to do is to find things that have broad appeal because they taste great,” he said.
Instead, the British bakery chain, which has North Tyneside branches at North Shields, Wallsend, Whitley Bay, Killingworth, Howdon and Cobalt Business Park, is likely to start selling vegan sandwiches this year. However, Whiteside said that the company would only provide shelf space to vegan items if they were 'so tasty they also appeal to non-vegans'.
He said that Greggs was adding items such as potato wedges and chicken goujons to its menu as part of its efforts appeal to post-6pm customers. Only a fraction of its shops stay open past that time.
Greggs, founded first as a bakery by John Gregg in 1939, opened their first shop in Gosforth in 1951. Today, the company has more outlets across the UK than McDonald’s and Starbucks.
The chain has plans to open an additional 110-130 stores in 2018, which will create up to 1,500 jobs and bring the total number of stores to over 1,750 across the UK. Some of these new locations will be drive-throughs after the successful trials in 2017.