Princes - closing UK factory.

Princes - closing UK factory.

UK food group Princes is planning to close its factory at Chichester in southern England.

The company - behind products such as canned meat and fish brand Princes, Napolina oils and soup brand Crosse & Blackwell - said it is making the move to "future-proof" its business.

It is understood up to 200 employees will be impacted by the decision.

In a statement sent to just-food, Princes, owned by Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp., said: "We can confirm we have commenced a consultation with employees at our Chichester site. We regret that under our proposal, we are forecasting the closure of the Chichester site by the end of 2020. This is not a course of action that has been taken lightly.

"We face unprecedented market conditions and it is crucial that we make significant changes to our operations to future-proof our business. Princes Group has strong foundations for growth and will continue to invest in its UK and international operations.

"This will be a very concerning time for all those that will be affected by this announcement and their families, and we will be supporting them through this difficult period."

On its website, Princes said its Chichester site, opened in 2002, has speciality, high quality production lines producing a variety of pack formats from cans and jars to pouches and microwavable pots.

"It has the capability to supply a diverse range of ambient food categories, including pastes and spreads, canned ready meals, canned pies, stocks and gravies, cooking sauces, and sandwich fillings," it said.

Princes, headquartered in Liverpool, announced in February that it was holding a business review.