StockMarketWire.com - Bakery chain Greggs on Wednesday upgraded its expectations for full-year pre-tax profits as sales of its savoury mince pies, hot drinks and breakfast offerings delivered a 'strong end' to 2018.

Greggs said it expected to deliver underlying profit before tax of at least £88m for 2018, 'slightly ahead' of its previous guidance of £86m.

For the 52 weeks through December, total sales were up 7.2% and like-for-like sales up 2.9%.

Greggs opened 49 new shops during the year, and closed 50, growing the estate to 1,953 shops.

In the year ahead, net shop openings were expected in the 90-100 range, it confirmed.

The bakery chain said it had entered the new year with 'good sales momentum and operational execution, a strong offer and a robust financial position,' despite the 'many economic and other uncertainties hanging over the consumer environment.'

'We delivered a very strong finish to 2018 despite the well-publicised challenges in the consumer sector,' said Chief Executive Roger Whiteside.

'This performance was broad-based, reflecting the strength of our range of freshly-prepared food and drinks, and the strategic changes that we have made in recent years to focus more effectively on the food-on-the-go market.'

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