Sandwich chain Pret A Manger plans to open at least 25 new sites around the UK by the end of the year and overhaul 85 of its 155 existing sites.

Commercial director Simon Hargraves told British Baker that the company plans to open in locations including Southampton and Cheshire Oaks. Around 10 new outlets will be outside the M25 and a further 15 inside.

The chain already has shops in cities including Edinburgh, Newcastle, Birmingham and Bath and will expand at the rate of 15-25% of its base every year in future, Hargraves said.

Meanwhile, 85 shops are to be refurbished this year "to a greater or lesser extent", as Pret A Manger softens its "harsh red and silver look, used during the 1990s", Hargraves said.

Changes will include more space dedicated to seating, larger seats and even carpeted areas. Customers will be encouraged to linger if they wish to.

"But we are never going to be a Costa Coffee or a Starbucks," Hargraves emphasised.

He added that Pret had now moved to Fairtrade coffee across all its stores and was already completely air miles-free as it built its sustainability credentials.

It launched 130 new products last year, he added. A range of hot food and wraps was performing "extremely well".