The high street bakery chain Greggs has been widely praised for allocating £17.6m of 2023 profits to pay 25,000 staff a bonus. 

Workers will receive a bonus in their wages at the end of March to recognise their "hard work and effort" during 2023, CEO Roisin Currie announced.

Following the announcement, Greggs was showered with praise online. The windfall follows Greggs making a 27% increase in annual profits.

The company delivered a bumper pre-tax profit of £188.3m for 2023 - up from £148.3m the previous year, after like-for-like sales in company-managed shops rose by 13.7%.

On an underlying basis, pre-tax profits lifted 13% to £167.7m.

But Ms Currie insisted the bakery giant was "not complacent" about tough high street trading conditions, as she reiterated Greggs would not increase its prices this year.

And she urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt - who on Wednesday (March 6) unveiled his spring budget - to "put money in consumers' pockets".

Ms Currie told the PA news agency: "The consumer is still under pressure in terms of their disposable income.

"We are certainly not complacent.

"Retaining that number one for value is very important to us."

Greggs, which employs a total of 32,000 people, shares 10% of profits each year with staff who have worked at the company for at least six months.

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Shareholders also benefited from a special dividend pay-out of 40p a share, on top of a 46p a share final dividend.

The company said it was confident it can deliver "another good year of progress" and remains on track to open up to 160 shops this year, after opening a record 220 sites in 2023.

However, the firm's annual results showed sluggish sales growth as there was less contribution from price inflation, paring back to 9.4% in the last quarter of the year.

Comparable store sales growths have slowed to 8.2% in the first nine weeks of 2024 - although Greggs said this reflected good growth by volume.

The bakery giant said in a statement: "Inflationary pressures are reducing and we have improved visibility costs in the coming year.

"There is no change to management's expectations for 2024"

Investment director at AJ Bell, Russ Mould, said Greggs' drive to be "food-on-the-go king" is paying off, adding that the company's market share is at an "all-time high".

He added: "The pace of growth actually slowed each quarter during the past year, albeit still delivering the kind of success most companies can only dream of.

"February was a washout month for all retailers due to the bad weather and that might explain the reduced growth reported by Greggs."