Whitbread plans to double the size of Costa Coffee – concentrating on sites abroad where it aims to triple its international estate. The company, which this morning revealed a 5.5% like-for-like sales growth for the coffee shop brand, said it was planning on expanding further in central Europe and then wanted to expand in Russia, the Middle East and China. Alan Parker, Whitbread’s chief executive, told M&C Report the company was targeting abroad for cities with a greater concentration of consumers per coffee shop. He said that internationally they could open stores with a potential of 300,000 customers per coffee shop in comparison to the UK where the maximum is 18,000. Closer to home, Whitbread is planning 30 sites this year, including one drive through by the end of 2010. Parker said: “There are still plenty of places for us to open in the UK and we are expanding our reach to hospitals, universities, where Costa is proving very popular with students and petrol stations.” Last year Whitbread opened 223 new sites for the Costa brand and its operating profits improved by 58.8% to £35.9m.