British bakery chain Greggs has reported that like-for-like (LFL) sales for its company-managed shops increased by 27.4% in the first 19 weeks of this year compared with the corresponding period of the prior year.

Total sales for the period ending on 14 May were £495m ($605.18m), up from £378m ($462.14m) a year earlier.

Greggs said that its LFL sales growth in the most recent ten weeks to 14 May, when Covid-19 lockdowns were being eased, had averaged at 15.8% and that it expected the trend to continue.

During the period, the retailer expanded its store count by opening 49 shops, 18 of which were through its franchise partners.

It also recently opened several retail parks and new travel-based units at Birmingham and Liverpool airports.

Greggs has closed six shops to date this year, bringing its total store portfolio to 2,224 as of 14 May.

Of the bakery chain’s stores, 1,831 are company-managed shops and 393 are franchised units.

Greggs has kept its guidance unchanged for the full year.

In a statement, the company said: “We have made a good start to 2022, with sales in line with our plan and a strong pipeline of new shop acquisitions ahead.

“Looking ahead, market-wide cost pressures have been increasing and consumer incomes will clearly be under pressure in the second half of the year. 

“We will continue to work to mitigate the impact of cost pressures whilst protecting Greggs’ reputation for exceptional value.”

In August last year, Greggs revealed plans to open 100 more stores across the UK over the following months as its sales returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The retailer recorded a return to profit during the 26 weeks to 3 July 2021, after having made a loss in the previous year.