Bakery chain Greggs has seen a dramatic sales increase after the introduction of its vegan sausage roll at the start of January.

Greggs sells 1.5 million sausage rolls a week. The firm created the new option after an online petition by Peta calling for a vegan version was signed by more than 20,000 people last year.

The strong demand for the vegan-friendly product drove a 14% rise in sales for the British high street baker in the first seven weeks of 2019, compared to the previous year of 6.2%.

Like-for-like sales went up 9.6% for the first seven weeks of the year to 16 February 2019, compared with 2018’s like-for-like sales of 2.9%.

Greggs’ vegan sausage roll will be sold in all 1,950 stores by 8 March 2019, the company has confirmed. A “vegan sausage roll locator” has been uploaded to its website so consumers can check if the vegan friendly snack is available in their local Greggs.

The strong finish to 2018 has been supported by extensive publicity from the launch of the vegan sausage roll. This increased customer transaction numbers, with additional sales mainly comprising of savoury products such as the vegan-friendly sausage roll and traditional products such as the sausage roll and bakes.

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According to IBES data from Refinitiv pre-tax profit for 2019 is expected to average £88.6m, the FTSE-250 company’s shares were expected to rise to 5% according to premarket indicators.

The strength of trading will have a positive impact on the first half results for 2019, Greggs is expected to announce results for the full year ended 29 December on 7 March.