2 Sisters Food Group plans to invest GBP55m (US$84.2m) to support "further growth" at its own-label meal solutions unit by upgrading production.

The division primarily produces own label ready meals soups and sauces for Marks and Spencer. Currently the business operates four factories: Pennine Foods in Sheffield and Rogerstone in South Wales as well as sites in Carlisle and Grimsby.

The majority of the investment will be used to "rebuild" Pennine Foods, with the remainder being allocated to refurbish and expand capacity at both Rogerstone and Carlisle, the company said.

2 Sisters said GBP38m will be spent on the Pennine facility, which is currently operating at full capacity. The site will benefit from a rebuild that will develop "best-in-class commercial and operational processes" to support continued innovation, expand capacity and drive further profitability.

While work is carried out, some capacity will be transferred to 2 Sisters' Rogerstone and Carlisle sites, beginning in April next year. This capacity will remain at these sites, affording the opportunity for new ranges to go into production at Pennine when work is completed at the end of 2017.

Simon Wookey, divisional managing director at 2 Sisters, said the investment would enable 2 Sisters to grow its share of the UK ready meals market. "We continue to see an opportunity to drive further market share growth in the ready meal sector supported by a new state-of-the-art factory in Sheffield. On average the chilled ready meals sector is growing at roughly 3% per annum, and our chilled division is outpacing that growth. It will also create significant opportunities to improve the way we operate as a business whilst also helping to safeguard and potentially create jobs in all our factories."

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The investment will safeguard around 800 jobs in Pennine, 2 Sisters added.