Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to create 550 UK jobs as part of ongoing expansion plans after a year of record sales and store openings.
The 286-strong chain, which launched in London in 1986, plans to open 44 stores in 2012, of which 20 will be overseas, including its first in Boston in the USA.
The company, mainly owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, opened two stores in Paris this year and already has stores in New York City.
Pret A Manger revealed its growth strategy alongside its financial results for the 12 months to 29 December.
Sales rose 15% to £377.3m, while underlying profit was up 14% to £52.4m, helped by 24 new outlets. It currently employs nearly 5,000 people in the UK and is planning a drive to attract more school-leavers to the business.
The company gives leftover food to the homeless, with 2.4 million sandwiches and salads donated last year. Pret said it would also expand its apprenticeship scheme for the homeless.
Chief executive Clive Schlee said: "2011 was a year of strong revenue and profit growth during which we built a record number of new stores in the UK and internationally.
"Pret plans to expand the Pret apprenticeship scheme for the homeless and increase the number of apprentices to 70 this year.
"The scheme offers an opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness by providing the most valuable gift of all - a paid job in a lively social environment."
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
E-mail your comments to Janie Manzoori-Stamford here.
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs