Pret A Manger to create 550 jobs

SANDWICH chain Pret A Manger is to create 550 jobs across Britain as it steps up its expansion plans after a year of record sales and store openings.

The chain, which opened in London in 1986 and has 286 shops mainly in the UK, said sales rose 15 per cent to £377.3 million in the year to December 29 while underlying profits were up 14 per cent to £52.4m, boosted by opening 24 stores.

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The firm, which employs nearly 5,000 people in the UK and gives its leftover food to the homeless, has pledged to open 24 more sites in the UK in 2012 and 20 overseas, including its first in Boston in the United States.

It is planning a drive to attract more school leavers to the business and said it will also expand its apprenticeship scheme for the homeless.