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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Costa Coffee set to open in China
Costa Coffee cups
Whitbread sees China as a major growth market for Costa
UK leisure group Whitbread has said it is planning to launch its Costa Coffee chain in China.

The company is set to open its first Costa store in China early next year, and ultimately wants to open 300 outlets in the country.

"China is a very attractive market, making this a major deal for Costa," said chief executive Alan Parker.

Whitbread said it would work with China's Yueda Group to develop the Costa chain for the country.

The news on Costa came as Whitbread unveiled a trading statement saying it had made a "robust" start to the current financial year.

Overall sales at the group - which also owns Premier Travel Inns, TGI Friday restaurants and David Lloyd Leisure - grew by 6.7% in the 13 weeks to 1 June.

Like-for-like sales - which strip out the impact of outlets opened in the past 12 months - were up 1.6%.

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