From Pie and Pea Suppers to £1bn sales
Greggs recently announced record-breaking sales, topping £1bn in 2018. I was fortunate enough to hear Ian Gregg speak at a fantastic LA23NET event on Tuesday.
Whilst managing Cumbrian based mental health charity Growing Well, we benefitted from funding through Greggs Foundation, and as Ian spoke, his commitment to social and environmental issues was evident.
Greggs success comes from recognizing opportunities and responding well to these. The vegan sausage roll is the latest example – developing a great tasting product that helps people engage with the climate change agenda.
However, the company has always been socially aware. It operates a 10% profit share with its employees and has encouraged share ownership schemes which have significantly benefitted long term employees.
Whilst still a small business back in the 1960’s, Greggs was providing free pie and peas suppers to elderly people in their community. As the company grew, it started to allocate 1% of its profits to the charitable Greggs Foundation, which also benefits from staff fundraising - last year this amounted to £600,000, demonstrating a significant commitment by employees to raising money for charitable causes, and a staff payroll giving scheme, where employees can voluntarily make salary sacrifice to support charities.
The result is a Foundation which gives best part of £3.5million each year to charitable causes. Quietly. And this is the interesting bit. There are many ways for businesses to support good causes, one of most philanthropic being to set up a Foundation. Greggs never markets its foundation, other than making sure that charitable organisations know it’s there to support them. They don’t particularly publicize their very significant social investment.
I asked Ian whether he believed that this charitable activity provides a commercial return. His response was that yes, he supposed it did raise the profile of the business, working within the communities that were also customers. However, what resonated was that he enjoyed the giving, it was always done openly and with good intention, and it would happen regardless of financial or promotional benefit.
As Ian said, ‘Doing good is good for business’. From Pie and Peas suppers to 550 breakfast clubs supporting 35,000 children, Greggs is a business which, throughout it’s incredible growth and success, remains a values driven organisation and is a shining light in a world where businesses need to be active and included members of their local communities more than ever before.