Work has officially begun on Unilever-owned ice cream producer Miko's €27m (US$35.2m) temperature-controlled distribution hub at St Dizier, in eastern France.

The hub is expected to enter service in November 2005 and become fully operational in the first half of 2006.

Miko's logistics operations are currently spread over four sites and these will be reduced to two with the new hub, the other location being in Lyon to serve southern France.

Miko produces 100 million litres of ice cream annually including the Carte d'Or and Cornetto brands.