Cranswick, the UK food group, is to open a new factory to expand the production of its olives, antipasti and pizza toppings arm Continental Fine Foods.

The company said today (29 November) work on the site, to be located in Bury, north of Manchester, would start “shortly”.

The group’s Continental Fine Foods division has two plants in Manchester but both have reached full capacity, Adam Couch, Cranswick’s chief executive, said.

“The two facilities, which have served the business so well since the Continental Fine Foods business was acquired, are now operating at full capacity. To enable the business to continue to grow and develop, a new GBP25m (US$31.2m) facility will be built in the north west of England which will consolidate production from the two existing sites,” Couch said. “The new site, based at Bury in Lancashire, will increase current capacity by approximately 70% and will enable the existing and new product ranges to be produced more efficiently.” Cranswick acquired Continental Fine Foods in 2001.

News of the investment came alongside the publication of Cranswick’s half-year results, which included rising sales and earnings.

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Couch said Continental Fine Foods’ sales rose 14% in the six months to 30 September. Volumes grew 18%.

“The business continues to successfully source new products from a complex array of high quality premium suppliers across the Mediterranean region. The Made in Manchester concept highlights the significant value add that the experienced and innovative teams at the two Manchester facilities bring to this fast growing category,” Couch said.