Greggs bakers have opened a new shop in the Dragonville Retail Park in Durham City. The shop, which has seating and free wi-fi, has created 14 new jobs.

Shop manager Joanne Henderson, said, “I’m very proud to be managing this shop and the shop team are looking forward to hearing what the local community think.”

The retail director of Greggs, Raymond Reynolds, said, “We’re delighted to be able to invest in Durham and provide our valued customers with a modern and convenient shop.” 

Not everyone may be aware that Greggs, a familiar presence on almost every UK high street, has humble north-east roots. The company began in Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, when John Gregg inherited a family business dealing in yeast and eggs.

John was soon delivering baked goods on his bicycle and he opened his first shop, in 1951, on Gosforth High Street. When John retired, his sons Ian and Colin took over the business.  

Greggs Strengthen North East Roots with New Durham Store
Greggs has more UK outlets than Starbucks and McDonalds

Ian had the revolutionary idea to do most of the baking off-site and just use small on-site ovens to warm the food up. This would mean that, while the shop would look and smell like a traditional bakery to customers, the company would avoid the hassles and expense of having a full baking set-up in every shop.

The business soon expanded, taking over numerous smaller bakeries. Greggs now has around 20,000 employees and around 1,700 outlets – more than McDonalds and Starbucks. In 2016, it announced a 25% increase in pre-tax profits, making a profit of £73 million on a turnover of £835.7 million.

Every week in the UK, Greggs sells over 2.5 million sausage rolls and 1 million coffees.

The company seems to have a somewhat old-fashioned approach to business. In contrast to the risky behaviour of many banks and large corporations, Greggs is debt-free. The company contributes to local charities and community groups. Staff are paid above the minimum wage, are included in a profit share scheme and receive a 50% discount on the company’s products.

Greggs Strengthen North East Roots with New Durham Store
Greggs sells over 2.5 million sausage rolls per week

Like most successful businesses, Greggs has had its set-backs. The company tried to launch a brand in Belgium, Engelse Bakker, but ended up retreating from the country in what was described as a “Dunkirk moment”. An attempt at a coffee-shop style brand, Greggs Moment, also didn’t work out. And in 2016 the company announced it would shed 335 jobs due to the closure of some of its main bakeries, though Greggs stated this was part of a wider expansion plan.

But, all in all, Greggs can be seen as a north-east success story.

“The (company) culture is very special,” said Greggs CEO Roger Whiteside, “and a lot of that comes from the roots in Newcastle.”

The opening hours of the shop in the Dragonville Retail Park are from 7 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday, and from 9 am to 5 pm on Sunday.           


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