By Marcus Leach

Pret a Manger are set to create a further 550 jobs in the UK during 2012 as part of its rapid expansion.

The sandwich chain have also announced that they will open 44 new stories, 20 of which will be overseas.

The expansion plans were released along with the company's annual results, in which sales rose 15% last year to £377.3 million.

With the two Paris stores performing well there are plans for further expansion in France.

Pret has been controlled by the investment firm Bridgepoint since 2008 when the founders sold it a 50% stake.

Under that deal McDonald's also sold its 33% stake, which it had held since 2001.

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