Reporting increasing sales in the first nine months of 2000, Italian restaurant chain Autogrill says it plans to invest some €200m for expansion next year, hoping to consolidate its position in Spain and France and enter the German market.

Under new CEO Livio Buttignol Questi, the company controlled by the Benetton clothing group said 60% of the investment will be in its newly acquired Hms Host Corp. in the US and the rest in Europe.

In the first nine months of 2000, Autogrill said consolidated sales reached €2.2bn, compared to €1,965bn in the same period last year. The company's ebitda showed a growth of 17.5% to reach €283m, equal to 13% of revenues. Hms Host corp. supplied 55% of revenues and international operations accounted for 70% of Autogrill's business.

The company expects to break even this year after showing a loss of €10m in 1999, largely following the costs of buying Host Marriott Service.