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Greggs is to launch a pilot of extended opening hours in a selection of its shops across the UK. Some branches already stay open late, with one in Westminster closing at 23:00 and another in Newcastle opening until 20:30 or 21:00.

The bakery chain’s announcement came as it reported a strong rise in sales and profits, partly due to the popularity of its new vegan sausage roll.

Profits in the first half of the year jumped to £36.7m from £24.1m.

Total sales rose 15% to £546m, while like-for-like sales – which strip out the impact of store openings and closures – in company-managed shops were up 10.5%.

Greggs said its new vegan sausage roll had proved extremely popular and was already one of its top sellers.

Traditional bakery favourites have continued to sell well, alongside a growth in Fairtrade coffee, breakfast and new hot food options. The firm has also trialled click and collect services and delivery.

Chief executive Roger Whiteside told the Today Programme: “We’ve converted ourselves from a traditional bakery business to a modern food-on-the-go brand with new shops, extended seating, extended trading hours, wi-fi, better products, better value and we’re more in touch with where the customers are today.”

The company has been opening about 100 new shops a year and hopes to open store number 2,000 in the next few weeks.

It is aiming for 2,500 shops, but new ones are more likely to be in transport hubs and office parks, rather than High Streets.

A total of 38% of its shops now serve catchment areas away from traditional shopping locations and the aim is to increase this figure to more than 50% in the long term.

In its results statement, Mr Whiteside also said that the chain was preparing for Brexit given “the potential impact that a disorderly exit might have on supply chains, tariffs, exchange rates and consumer demand”.

“As disclosed at the time of our preliminary results in March, we are building stocks of key ingredients and equipment that could be affected by disruption to the flow of goods into the UK.”

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