Costa Coffee, the Whitbread-owned coffee shop and food-to-go chain, saw like-for-like sales (LFLs) soar by 6.8% last year.

The retailer, which lies second in the BB75 league table by number of outlets, said its underlying operating profit had increased by a massive 29.3% to £90.1m in the 12 months to 28 February 2013.

Unveiling its preliminary results, the company said its stellar performance in the past year meant it had now set itself a £2bn sales target by 2018 – doubling system sales at Costa.

The chain said it expected to open over 100 new stores are in the UK in the next 12 months. The strategy should also see it create 12,000 UK jobs over the next five years as it continues its store opening plans.

The firm also revealed plans to pilot six stores in Paris in 2013/14.

Overall, Whitbread, which also runs the Premier Inn chain of budget hotels, as well as pubs and restaurants, saw total revenue increase by 14.2% to £2.03bn, up from £1.7bn the year before.

Profit after tax and exceptional items was also up by 13.3% to £301.3m, up from £266m for 2011/12.

Costa said: “We continue to focus on driving organic growth, with the recipe for our success being our great people, great products and great stores. During the year we opened 186 net new stores in the UK, taking the total number of stores to 1,578."

“Product innovation underpins our LFL growth, such as the successful launch of Cortado coffee and Chai Latte.

“Investment in our people is an important part of our culture and we have implemented customer-focused incentive schemes, as well as new core skills training academies.”

And, unlike rival Greggs yesterday, chief executive Andy Harrison said the cold weather had “benefited” Costa’s sales.