Pret A Manger claims it will create 500 new UK jobs in upcoming expansion

Chain aims at another 50 stores worldwide this year

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has pledged to create at least 500 UK jobs this year after its expansion drive helped annual sales leap 13% to £443 million.

The company will hire around 1,000 staff worldwide in 2013 as it looks to grow its portfolio of 323 stores by 50, with half of the new shops being pencilled in for the UK.

Around 15 of the stores will be based in London, with Leicester and Peterborough among other towns under consideration for the remaining 10.

Pret said its new UK jobs will be supported by extending its employment programme for school leavers in September. It has so far hired nine school leavers under this scheme.

The sandwich chain has 256 stores in the UK, where it has opened 19 in the past year. But just days after supermarket giant Tesco became the latest British firm to pull out of the US, Pret said it is marching ahead to build a “critical mass” in the country after opening 11 stores in the past year - including two in its fourth US city of Boston.

The Pret brand is also enjoying a good start in France after launching four shops in Paris, which it said are generating higher average weekly sales than in London or any of its other cities.