Providence Business News  reports that Dunkin’ Donuts, which employs 1,034 people at 180 stores in Rhode Island, said its sales rose 4 percent last year as the ubiquitous coffee chain opened 351 new stores around the world.

DUNKIN’ DONUTS OPENED its flagship store in Shanghai, China, above, in November 2008, and continues to expand its footprint in Asia. BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO / QILAI SHEN

Dunkin’ Donuts recorded annual revenue of $5.7 billion in 2009, up from $5.5 billion in 2008, according to a statement from its parent company, Dunkin’ Brands Inc., which also owns Baskin Robbins. The privately held company did not disclose earnings.

“Despite the economy, Dunkin’ Donuts experienced strong net growth across the U.S. as well as internationally, which positions us as one of the fastest-growing [quick-service restaurant] brands in the industry last year,” Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis said in a statement.

There were more than 9,000 Dunkin’ Donuts stores worldwide by the end of last year, up from 8,835 at the end of 2008, the company said. Lovers of iced coffee and munchkins could satisfy their cravings at new stores in China, South Korea, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and the Bahamas.

In the United States the chain added 171 stores, many of them in nontraditional locations such as airports, stadiums and universities.

The company also said 90 percent of those new U.S. Dunkin’ stores were located outside its core New England market, including in new regions such as Louisville, Ky., Birmingham, Ala., Dayton, Ohio, Madison, Wis., and Erie, Pa.

“As we continue to grow in 2010, we are focusing on steady, strategic growth that allows us to gain greater penetration in our existing markets, while also entering a few select new territories,” Travis said.

Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in 1950 in Quincy, Mass., with its first franchise opening in 1955. The first Dunkin’ Donuts in Rhode Island opened in 1956 on North Main Street in Providence. The company had 180 shops in the Ocean State as of January, a spokesman said.

Dunkin’ Donuts stores and franchises employed 1,034 workers in Rhode Island at the end of last year, Melissa Chambers, a spokeswoman for the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, said in an e-mail.

Readmore at:  Providence Business News 

Related reading: BusinessWeek  and: Nation’s Restaurant News