How Geordie baker who bought yeast door-to-door created £1billion Greggs empire

JUST just like the pastry on its beloved bakes, Greggs’ income carry on rising in its rags-to-riches story.

It was introduced this week that the excessive avenue favorite’s annual turnover topped £1BILLION for the primary time in 2018 — not unhealthy for what started as one bloke on his bike delivering yeast and eggs to miners’ wives on Tyneside.

First bakery retailer, ‘Greggs of Gosforth’ (named after the realm of Newcastle), opened in 1951

It now employs greater than 20,000 workers and feeds many, many extra mouths because it bucks the pattern of at this time’s retail doom and gloom.

Due to its purse-friendly, scrummy steak bakes, cupcakes and sausage rolls — it now even sells vegan ones — Greggs is a British establishment and on a really tasty roll.

But it was all cooked up from humble beginnings.

In 1939, founder John “Jack” Gregg began touring Tyneside on his bike promoting the elements for locals to do their very own baking.

He quickly swapped the bike for a van, however then left spouse Elsie to do the rounds whereas he was away serving in World Warfare Two.

By 1951 he had hit the excessive avenue, opening his first store, Greggs of Gosforth, named after the realm of Newcastle. With a bakery on the again, he was capable of make, bake and promote recent bread and different treats.

‘Many branches now open till late into the night time’

Clients flocked in, and in 1953 the store made a revenue of £69, 15 shillings and sixpence — about £69.77 and the equal to simply shy of two grand at this time.

Regardless of his store’s recognition, although, Jack didn’t need his two sons to observe him into the baking recreation — and labored to provide them one of the best training.

However in 1963, Jack fell ailing. He died the following yr from lung most cancers, aged 55.

His son Ian, a solicitor, after finding out legislation and classics at Cambridge College, defied his dad’s needs and stop to take over the enterprise.

Greggs chief government, Roger Whiteside, stands outdoors one of many 1,850 Greggs bakeries throughout the UK

It was Ian who masterminded the agency’s enlargement — and considered one of his masterstrokes was to put in small ovens in the back of the store, the sights and smells luring prospects, whereas protecting heavy baking off website.

Ian mentioned of taking on the home that Jack constructed: “I feel one of many huge advantages was, I didn’t know something about enterprise or baking. I got here with a recent thoughts and listened fastidiously to what different individuals mentioned.”

It proved a recipe for big success — and the creation of the excessive avenue’s main baker.

He opened increasingly retailers throughout the North East, Yorkshire, Manchester and Scotland. Inside a decade, Greggs’ annual turnover rocketed from £100,000 to greater than £5million.

Ian Baker took over his father’s bakery after the founder died from lung most cancers in 1963

By 1983, it had 300 bakeries, and a yr later was listed on the Inventory Trade. Greggs’ turnover continued to rise over the following decade, reaching £50million within the Nineties.

The success has not been with out scandal, although. Two years in the past, Ian’s brother Colin — who appears to have had restricted involvement within the enterprise — was jailed for greater than 13 years for a intercourse offences in opposition to boys relationship again to 1963 when he was working as a trainer.

In 2012, Greggs additionally confronted monetary hassle within the form of presidency plans to slap 20 per cent VAT on sizzling, freshly-baked takeaway meals.

However such is the general public’s devotion to the agency, it sparked an enormous backlash and The Solar launched a Who VAT All of the Pies marketing campaign to demand the tax be scrapped. Web page three Woman Rhian delivered a 500,000-name petition to Downing Road.

A preferred Greggs bakery within the 1980s. By 1983, Greggs had over 300 bakeries and only a yr later was listed on the Inventory Trade

The then Chancellor, George Osborne, duly U-turned — saying he had “listened to Solar readers”. He revised the plan so the tax can be charged solely on cooked pies and pasties that have been stored sizzling, however not these nonetheless heat after coming from the oven.

What Mr Osborne realised is that the nation simply can not get sufficient of Greggs. Many branches now open into the night time — one in Newcastle even has its personal bouncer at weekends.

In 2013 a Sky TV documentary concerning the enterprise, Greggs: Extra Than Meats The Pie, drew 1.27million viewers.


At this time there are greater than 1,850 shops within the UK — greater than McDonald’s or Starbucks — and chief government Roger Whiteside goals to take this determine past 2,000.

However whereas Greggs has moved with the instances — the launch of its vegan sausage roll this yr has helped to spice up income — the chain has stayed true to its roots.

Greggs the Bakers, David Parker, retail operations director (left), Mike Darrigton (center), and Malcolm Simpson, monetary director (proper)

Within the North East it serves native delicacy ham-and-pease pudding stotties.

Nobody is extra shocked by the success than reluctant entrepreneur Ian, who retired as chairman in 2002 however stays a shareholder.

He says: “I set out at 25 with a view to operating a small enterprise in Newcastle — however it simply took off.”

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