Confidence paves way for 1,100 new jobs

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The Independent Online
Rising consumer confidence and increased high street spending are helping to create almost 1,100 jobs at Whitbread, Gowrings, and Index.

Whitbread, the brewing, pubs and restaurants company, plans to create 300 new jobs by opening 35 more Costa Coffee stores over the next 12 months, mainly in and around London. New outlets are being opened this month in Putney, Goodge Street, Harrow and Waverley Station in Edinburgh.

They will increase the number of Costa Coffee outlets by more than half to around 90 stores, and will take the operation further away from its traditional sites in airports and railway stations and on to high street locations.

These will place greater emphasis on building up a takeaway trade in coffee. As well as selling coffee beans it will market coffee spin-offs such as coffee cups and coffee machines. Demand for real coffee is expected to grow by 60 per cent by the year 2001, Costa's managing director, Mike Dowell, said yesterday.

Costa has also taken over six airport coffee stand concessions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports currently operating as Steff's Cafes

Separately, Gowrings is opening five Burger King restaurants in Birmingham, Southampton, Bournemouth, Newbury and Newton Abbott. They will also employ an extra 300 people, and take the total number of Burger Kings operated by Gowrings, which also operates Ford main dealerships, to 21.

A further 480 jobs are being created by Index, the Littlewoods-owned retailers. It will open five more stores across the country, creating 100 jobs, and open a pounds 20m distribution centre in the West Midlands, adding another 380 staff to the payroll. The first store will be opened in Walsall in April, with the other four locations yet to be finalised.