The secret sauce that makes Greggs special
14 August 2023
At the latest session in Cardiff Business School’s Breakfast Briefing Series, the Chief Financial Officer of Greggs shared a unique insight into the company, its values, and what makes them a much-loved brand.
Dr Deborah Hann, Reader in Employment Relations at Cardiff Business School, hosted the virtual session with Richard Hutton, Chief Financial Officer at Greggs.
Before introducing Richard, Dr Hann referenced that Greggs has been named one of the happiest places to work in the UK, and is a company that often puts values at the front and centre of their business.
To start proceedings, a video about Greggs outlets and Greggs Foundation was shown, illustrating the ways in which Greggs supports local communities.
Richard began by saying that he has worked at Greggs for 25 years, finding it a fulfilling job and a place that has made a real difference to the communities they operate in.
Talking in more detail about Greggs outlets, Richard explained that they share profits from outlets with local community organisations, from food banks to homeless charities and soup kitchens. Outlets are also a way of tackling food waste, using channels to push surplus food and sell it cheaply to communities who need it.
The discussion moved on to how Greggs has become a business that is a British icon. With a Greggs clothing range being sold in Primark, Greggs flags at Glastonbury, and a programme about the company being aired on channel 5.
Richard said: “Greggs has a degree of affection with the public because we’ve never taken ourselves too seriously.” He explained that they try to join in the joke, try not to be too clever, and have some fun with their PR. This has helped them to become a significant brand across the UK.
Next, Dr Hann asked Richard to talk more about the Greggs Foundation. Through Greggs Foundation and partner organisations, they support 800 primary schools by providing free breakfast to children. Richard touched upon the history of the Greggs Foundation and how it has evolved over time.
Describing the Greggs ethos, he said that they believe if you look after the communities your shops operate in, the communities are likely to be more sustainable. Therefore, more people are likely to visit the shop meaning your shop is more successful, so supporting communities makes business sense as well. He added: “it makes sense to support food poverty issues when we are in the food industry.”
Later in the session, the importance of authenticity is discussed. Richard explained that being your authentic self is built into their leadership development programme and said there isn’t a corporate ideal that managers have to live up to. The company also hosts listening sessions with staff and managers. He said: “it comes back to keeping Greggs a friendly and pleasant workplace.”
Richard talked about the logic of if employees are happy, customers will be happy and will come more often, meaning shareholders will be happy.
Dr Hann facilitated questions and answers with the audience during the session. Other topics covered included: the impact of Brexit, the company’s role in tackling obesity, staff retention, food inflation, climate change, and how the company balances business and values when decision-making.
Cardiff Business School's Breakfast Briefing Series is a network of events which enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.