April 27, 2017 / 7:33 AM / 4 months ago

Food chain Pret A Manger targets more expansion as profits rise

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - British coffee and sandwich chain Pret A Manger said on Thursday it was on track to grow its global store estate to 500 in 2017 as it reported an 11 percent rise in core earnings.

Pret, majority owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, made core earnings of 93.2 million pounds ($120.2 million) in 2016 as total sales rose 15 percent to 776.2 million pounds. Sales at outlets open over a year increased 4.8 percent.

The outcome was a twelfth straight year of revenue and core earnings growth. In the United States sales exceeded $200 million for the first time.

Pret opened 50 new shops in 2016, taking the total to 444, and now trades from six countries - the UK, U.S., France, Hong Kong, China and Dubai.

"We look forward to opening our 500th Pret shop in the next 12 months and furthering our measured expansion in both existing and new markets," said Chief Executive Clive Schlee.

On Tuesday Whitbread said underlying sales at its Costa Coffee chain fell in its fourth quarter. The group also said it was cautious about the 2017-18 financial year, saying it expected a tougher consumer environment than in 2016-17. ($1 = 0.7754 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)

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