Retail Insider Breakfast – Roger Whiteside, CEO of Greggs + Miranda Ballard, co-founder of Muddy Boots

Miranda Ballard, co-founder of Muddy Boots, and Roger Whiteside, CEO of Greggs

Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event of 2017 with Roger Whiteside, CEO of Greggs, and Miranda Ballard, co-founder of Muddy Boots, who shared their experiences of both running food retail companies but where they differ massively in terms of scale.

Greggs operates a hefty 1,786 outlets while Muddy Boots has a mere three stores but they both share some of the same challenges as well as opportunities in the marketplace.

Senior executives from Amazon, TM Lewin, Tesco, The Entertainer and WoolOvers were among those who heard how Greggs had taken the decision to withdraw from the take-home part of the market and to concentrate on food-on-the-go whereas Muddy Boots is very much a seller of food for cooking at home

The latter’s unique aspect is combining a vertically integrated butchery business with retail outlets where it sells its meat products packaged up in a similar way to a supermarket.

The two businesses are similar in that they both produce the vast majority of their products in their own factories and they are also on the expansion trail. Whiteside told those gathered in the private dining room of The Delaunay that Greggs could go “substantially” beyond the earlier stated 2,000 units. This is helped by its varied footprints that can go down to mere kiosks. For Muddy Boots it is a case of finding further London-based sites.

As well as adding units Greggs is also constantly on the hunt for new categories to take the company beyond its sausage rolls and sandwiches core and also spread sales throughout the day. “Ten years ago we took on McDonald’s with a set offer of coffee and baps. The killer was the £2 price. We’re growing double-digit every year and we’re extending the menu at breakfast,” says Whiteside.

Meal Deals play a larger part in the Greggs proposition and he acknowledges that coffee is a crucial component in putting such price-driven packages together.

For Muddy Boots one of the real differentiators has been its decision to open until 9pm – a long time after traditional butchers will have closed their doors – seven days per week. “Between 4:30 and 9pm we take more money than in the previous [trading] hours of the day,” says Ballard.

One area where both Ballard and Whiteside are in full agreement is the operational challenges of dealing with home delivery. Greggs’ only delivery element involves six shops sending food orders to businesses. And for Muddy Boots there is a preference to offer a Reserve & Collect proposition where goods are collected (and paid for) at the stores.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Roger Whiteside and Miranda Ballard for giving up their valuable time and also to the morning’s sponsors PCMS GroupBond Dickinson and Webloyalty. Without their much appreciated support this event would not have been possible.

 Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider