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Liverpool-based food and drink manufacturing group Princes said it was on target to hit £2bn in revenue after posting record sales.

Company turnover for the year to 31 March 2012 was £1.51bn, up from £1.18bn in 2011, while acquisitions during the period have enabled it to lay claim to being the UK's largest canned food maker and supplier.

Post-tax profit in 2011/12 was £31.1m, a rise from £27.6m in 2011, according to newly released figures.

Princes sells own brand fruit juices, canned fish, meat pastes and ready meals.

In July 2011, it spent £181m acquiring the East Anglian canning operations of Premier Foods which contributed to Princes' sales during the second half of the year.

It also brought a number of brands, including Crosse & Blackwell, Farrow's and Smedley's, into the Princes portfolio and gave it long-term agreements to manufacture certain products for Branston and Batchelors under licence.

Following the acquisition, Princes invested more than £4m in relaunching the Crosse & Blackwell brand with a range of canned soup and vegetable products.

It said it also made "significant progress" expanding internationally, with sales outside of the UK up by 26 per cent to £388m.

The group now employs more than 6,000 staff across 14 food and drink production sites and said it was on target to achieve annual sales of £2bn.

In May, it created a new tomato processing company with its long-term Italian supplier AR Industrie Alimentari SpA which included acquiring its 1.3m sq ft factory in Foggia.

Managing director Ken Critchley said: "Princes made excellent progress during the last financial year. We have successfully integrated our newly-acquired operations and brands and are benefiting from the early investment we have made.

"In particular, we are growing distribution and sales of our award-winning Crosse & Blackwell products, which are achieving strong sales in our core markets.

"The group has also invested in the infrastructure and people to build on our international growth, which is a core part of our strategy."


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