Spain’s biggest restaurant chain Grupo Vips will open 156 restaurants by 2007 as it continues to consolidate its domestic stronghold, a company spokeswoman confirmed to just-food.

The Madrid-based chain will roll out 75 restaurants this year and open 81 in 2007 to operate 451 establishments, according to expansion documents on its Web site.
Vips has expanded aggressively this year, and plans to ring 2006 with over 240 outlets, the spokeswoman said, adding that the chain’s expansion targets are a “mere estimate” and could be downdraded.

The company will open most fledgling outlets under its quintessential Vips cafeteria trademark but will also expand its second-biggest Ginos pizzeria chain, its Tio Pepe franchise, and its newer The Wok and TGI Friday’s chains.

Vips will also set up new Starbucks cafes (which sell a wide assortment of pastries and sandwiches) under a joint venture with the Seattle, US-based coffee giant to operate its outlets in Spain and France. Since launching in 2001, Starbucks has mushroomed up in Spain and plans to close the year with 45 outlets. In France, it has 15 cafes.

As part of the overall expansion, Vips plans to hire 1,500 new employees to elevate its workforce to 9,500.