Gregg’s is nationwide British bakery chain. Why are there so few Greggs outlets in central London?
There’s certainly no shortage of commuters looking for lunch, or tourists looking for a quick snack. McDonald’s, EAT, Pret and Starbucks all maintain a strong presence.
Living in the provinces, I have always been impressed by the sheer quantity of Greggs outlets. In central Leeds and Newcastle, large cities, one never need be more than one minute’s walk away from a steak bake or sausage roll.
So why so few outlets in central London? Yes, the chain has northern origins, but that didn’t hinder McDonald’s or Starbucks, with origins even further afield.
The chain is essentially a fast food retailer: largely calorific products served quickly and cheaply. And Burger King, KFC and McDonald’s are very successful in the capital. People clearly aren’t afraid of unhealthy food.
Is the rent too high to make the low cost retailer profitable? Greggs outlets have very limited seating, so I hardly see how this could be an insurmountable problem. In Bread: The Story of Greggs, Ian Gregg, the former chairman of the company, states that before the 2008 economic crash, rivals were overpaying for sites in central London. But if that is indeed the case, then what has prevented the chain from expanding in the area since the economic crash, now that rents are lower?
Lets look at the individual USPs of its rivals. McDonald’s offers seating, Starbucks offers comfortable surroundings, Pret offers speciality coffee. The Greggs proposition can actually be fulfilled through small supermarket concessions. In actuality, many small supermarkets in central London already offer a hot pasty/sausage roll selection. How does Greggs improve on their rival? Well the Greggs product will be fresher, as they bake their food throughout the day. So freshness, convenience and price are the USPs that need to be drawn upon. Greggs also needs to smarten up its existing central London outlets in order to place distance between itself and its reputation as downmarket junk food.