The public’s appetite for sausage rolls and baked slices has remained steady despite the pressures of the cost of living crisis, as shown in bumper results from Greggs this week.

The food-to-go stalwart delivered a 19.6% jump in total sales for its 2023 financial year to £1.8bn, as new store openings and like-for-like growth of 13.7% boosted trading.

Greggs said like-for-like sales volumes also remained strong through the year, while gains from pricing eased as it annualised against price increases made in May and October 2022.

Overall growth was boosted by a “record” 220 shop openings during the year. After 75 closures, it netted out at 145 openings, meaning its estate stood at 2,473 shops as of 30 December 2023. It also relocated 42 existing shops and refurbished 122 existing shops.

Meanwhile, it continued to expand partnerships with retailers including Primark, Tesco and newest partner Sainsbury’s. Sales were also supported by the expansion of evening trading, with more than 1,200 sites competing for food-to-go sales until 7pm or later. It also expanded its delivery reach to 1,440 shops via Just Eat and Uber Eats, helping to boost online sales by 23.6%.

To match the topline performance, underlying pre-tax profit for the year increased by 13.1% to £167.7m from £148.3m. Underlying cost inflation in 2023 averaged 8.5% for the year but with an exit rate closer to 5%.

Greggs also said it had started 2024 well, with like-for-like sales in company-managed shops growing by 8.2% in the first nine weeks.

To further boost investors, it issued a special dividend of 40p per share, driven by exceptional income from settled business interruption insurance claims.

“This is a well-oiled machine that’s created a recipe for success,” AJ Bell commented. “Greggs is getting more from existing stores by having them open for longer, while at the same time it continues to open new sites.

“Behind the scenes, it is reinvesting cashflow into manufacturing, distribution and logistics capabilities to support its growth.”

Peel Hunt added: “Greggs continues to perform well, with growth underpinned by rising volumes and pricing still a lever that can be readily pulled (Greggs has flagged potential for another small price increase over the summer).”

However, it suggested its strong share price performance and demanding multiple “leaves better value elsewhere”.

Greggs shares were up 2.1% on Tuesday and another 2.7% on Wednesday at 2,850p. The shares are up nearly 10% so far in 2024.