By Daniel Hunter

Pret A Manger have confirmed that they will create a further 500 jobs in the UK this year, as part of wider plans to add 1,000 staff to their payroll worldwide.

The sandwich chain made the announcement as it reported a 17% rise in profits to £61.1 million in 2012, with sales also up by 17% to £443 million.

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.

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