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Vegan sausage roll powers Gregg’s shares to new high

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It’s hard to ignore the media furore that has surrounded the launch of Gregg’s new vegan sausage roll. Love it or hate it, it has helped to power the high street baker’s shares to reach an all-time high.

Gregg’s has bucked the trend of doom and gloom on the UK high street with a positive set of fourth quarter numbers.

During the company’s 2018 financial year it saw total sales grow by 7.2%. Performance was particularly strong over the last three months of 2018, with sales up 5.2% over the period. In light of this, the company has raised its profit guidance.

In response, Gregg’s shares have reached an all-time high of 1460p on Wednesday. Over the past three months, its shares have risen by 22%.

The baker said the new vegan sausage roll, launched on 3 January to coincide with Veganuary, has already proven popular with a broad range of customers. It is possible to combine it with a vegan-friendly winter vegetable soup in a meal deal for £2.25.

According to the Evening Standard, Gregg’s chief executive Roger Whiteside admitted to being caught out by the high demand for the vegan sausage roll.

“We didn’t expect  people to be quite as excited about it. We’re busy playing catch-up trying to get continuity in most stores. We’re chasing our tails,” he said.

Looking ahead, the company expects to deliver underlying pre-tax profit of at least £88 million, ahead of its previous guidance.

Dividing the crowd

The launch of the vegan sausage roll has sparked a furore on social media. While some took to Twitter to express their support, others have voiced their disgust at Gregg’s decision to launch a vegan-friendly version of its top-selling product.

Critics included Piers Morgan, who reacted to the launch on Twitter by saying: “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns.”

His comments attracted many responses, including Gregg’s social media team, which replied: “Oh hello Piers, we’ve been expecting you.”

Shoppers have since taken to social media to post videos of their reactions after trying the new vegan sausage roll. Meanwhile, Morgan tried the baked item live on air and appeared to vomit soon after.

“Piers Morgan slating the product on national day time TV caused it to go viral, increasing demand in store. Going forward, this kind of hype for a new item on a menu is difficult to repeat, however you just need to look at its share price performance to show how successful the company is at this type of marketing,” said Jordan Hiscott, chief trader at ayondo markets, a trading platform for CFDs and spread betting.

“Looking at the trajectory of the shares since inception in 1991, its trend is more akin to a start-up tech company, up an astounding 3,187% over the period,” Hiscott added.