Costa Coffee’s sales have continued to increase, but meal deals may soon be on the menu as like-for-like growth slows.

The company has said it will be developing its food offering with, for example, lunchtime meal deals such as a panini and a cappuccino for £4.95.

It will also continue to capitalise on independent research carried out earlier in the year, which revealed that seven out of 10 people prefered Costa cappuccinos to its competitors, with “an aggressive marketing campaign” throughout the year.

Total sales growth was up 22% to £263.8m according to parent company Whitbread’s premlininary results for the year to 26 February, 2009. However, like-for-growth rose at a slower rate of 2%, compared to 3.7% reported for the first half of the 2008/09 year. Operating profit stood at £22.7m - up 9.1%.

The coffee chain has achieved net new openings of 296; 110 of which are overseas. As reported in British Baker last month, the chain plans to open another 100 outlets in the UK in 2009/10, and said it would focus on new locations, as well as areas where it could replace existing operators in, for example, supermarkets and hospitals.