oger Whiteside, the chief executive of high street bakery chain Greggs, has announced plans to this year retire from the company he has led since 2013.
The boss, who is 63, will step down from the post after Greggs’ annual meeting in May. He will be succeeded by Roisin Currie, the FTSE 250 firm’s retail and property director.
The update came as the firm reported fourth quarter sales up on the same period in 2019.
Whiteside has spent more than four decades in the retail sector, having previously worked at firms such as Punch Taverns, Marks & Spencer and Ocado.
During his time leading Greggs, the firm’s estate has grown from around 1600 shops to 2181, and more openings are planned.
The shares were just under 400p per share when he took over and today stand at around 3311p .
He told the Evening Standard he had wanted to retire before he is 65, and “the plan is to spend time with family and friends”.
Whiteside will remain available to the business to support a handover until January 2023.
In another announcement, the retailer reported on trading for the year to January 2.
Sales totalled £1.23 billion, up from £811 million and £1.16 billion in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
Two year like for like sales growth was down 3.3%, but in the fourth quarter there was a 0.8% rise.
Greggs said there was a strong performance in October “followed by more challenging conditions as consumers responded to precautionary messages relating to the new coronavirus variant”.
The firm has not escaped challenges rivals have also faced, from driver shortages impacting the delivery of certain ingredients, to Plan B rules guiding people to work from home which has hit high street footfall.
Incoming boss Currie will face headwinds ahead, with Greggs pointing to inflationary pressures increasing towards the end of 2021. It said they are “likely to remain elevated in 2022”.
Plans ahead including launching 150 new stores a year and growing the click and collect and made-to-order size of the business.
Currie has been at Greggs since 2010 and previously worked at Asda.
Ian Durant, chairman of Greggs, said:“Roisin has played a central role in the success of Greggs as it has developed as a multi-channel food-on-the-go business and I am delighted that she will lead the next phase of our growth. She has deep experience of our culture and our strategic plan, and will lead with energy and character.”
Durant added that Whiteside has been an “outstanding” boss.