Domino's Pizza today unveiled plans to open 50 new stores this year, creating at least another 1,500 new jobs in the UK and Ireland.
The move came after the fast food chain announced full-year profits which were up by almost a quarter.
It was not immediately clear whether any of the new stores would be in Northern |Ireland, where Domino’s already has 14 outlets.
During 2008, Domino’s expanded its UK network at the rate of one new store a week, with two of the new locations being Omagh and Antrim.
The company said consumers were abandoning the restaurant sector as the economic downturn began to hit, and were choosing to dine at home instead.
The group, whose UK headquarters are in Milton Keynes, said its profits had risen to £23.4m in the 52 weeks to December 28. This came on the back of an 18.4% rise in sales for the year.
The chain said working people were increasingly reliant on prepared food. It added Domino's has a broadening customer base as the young adults originally attracted to take-away pizza had grown into their 30s, “taking their eating habits with them”.
The Domino's announcement comes after fried chicken chain KFC said yesterday it planned an expansion which would create up to 9,000 jobs over the next five years as consumers turn to cheaper dining.
And fast food giant McDonald's recently said last year was its “strongest ever” in the UK despite the economic downturn.
Domino's, which has 553 stores in the UK and Ireland run on a franchise basis, said people wanted to “trade down” from going out for a meal but were unwilling to give up entirely on luxuries.
The pizza delivery firm said it had an “exceptional” start to 2009, with like-for-like sales for the first six weeks up 15%. It said a third of the 2.7 million people it delivered to last year were new customers.
But chief executive Chris Moore sounded a note of caution.
“While we are delighted with this performance, we face some very tough comparatives and an unpredictable economic environment,” he said.
He said this year's store opening programme was “well under way” and he was “confident that we are well positioned for another year of strong growth”.