Pret A Manger plans 500 new UK jobs as profits rise

media captionClive Schlee, Pret A Manger: "We encourage our staff to give coffee and food away to customers"

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has said it plans to create at least 500 new jobs in the UK this year, as part of a plan to add 1,000 new staff worldwide.

Its announcement came as it reported a 17% rise in profits to £61.1m in 2012, with sales also up by 17% to £443m.

Chief executive Clive Schlee said 2012 had been a "strong year" for the firm.

He also responded to criticism that the firm was not hiring enough UK citizens, saying it had 15% more British employees this year than last year.

The group - which was bought by private equity fund Bridgepoint in 2008 - has 323 stores, mainly in the UK, but with others in Hong Kong, the United States and France. The firm said average weekly sales in Paris were bigger than in any other region.

Pret plans to open another 50 new shops worldwide this year, up from 36 new launches last year.

Earlier this year, London Mayor Boris Johnson said that an increasing number of workers at food outlets like Pret were not "native Londoners".

image captionPret plans to open another 50 new shops worldwide this year

But Mr Schlee told Radio 4's Today programme: "We've responded to a lot of criticism like that.

"It depends on what market you're talking about. Outside London Pret is predominantly British," he said.

"Inside London it's a much more cosmopolitan economy and our staff reflect the nature of the people in London," he added.

Pret started a school-leaver's programme last year aimed at encouraging more British applicants to join the firm.

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