Bakery chain Greggs has warned profits will not recover until at least 2022, as it braced itself for annual losses of up to around £15m.

The group – which recently axed 820 jobs amid the coronavirus crisis – said like-for-like sales fell 18.9 per cent on average year-on-year over its fourth quarter to January 2.

Greggs, which has outlets across the county, said total sales for the year slumped by nearly a third – 31per cent – to £811m, but added that Government support had helped limit full-year pre-tax losses.

It said while there was significant uncertainty over the outlook due to ongoing lockdowns and Covid-19 measures, it was not expecting profits to recover to pre-pandemic levels for another two years at the earliest.

Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “With customers spending more time at home we have successfully developed our partnership with Just Eat to offer delivery services and have also seen strong sales through our longstanding partnership with Iceland, offering our products for home baking.

“We have resumed opening new shops where we see good opportunities, with those sites accessed by car performing particularly well.

“In light of the recent Government announcements, significant uncertainties remain in the near-term.

“We have taken action to position Greggs to withstand further short-term shocks and are optimistic about our prospects for growth once social restrictions are lifted.”