Bosses at US-based Hain Daniels Group have unveiled plans for a multi-million-pound expansion of its frozen-foods factory in Fakenham which could create up to 150 new jobs.

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The Hain Daniels Group, whose UK base is in Leeds, confirmed the move at its site on Holt Road, which could potentially see the number of staff at the factory increase from its current 245 to 395.

The proposal follows a $230m (£148m) takover deal of the Daniels Group by US-owned Hains Celestial, which brought with it a pledge to increase the use of the Fakenham factory, one of eight UK sites, as part of a plan to “create a powerhouse in the fresh and frozen natural sector in the United Kingdom”.

The Hain Daniels product line-up includes the Linda McCartney meat-free range was well as New Covent Garden Soup, Johnson’s Juices and the Farmhouse Fare range of traditional desserts.

The firm has submitted an application for planning permission for its expansion plans to North Norfolk District Council.

Plans include the erection of side and rear extensions, siting of a changing cabin, retention of plant housing on the roof, installation of a water tank and provision of additional car parking.

A spokesman for the Hain Daniels Group said it is hoped the work will be completed by complete by autumn this year and that employment opportunities could arise at the beginning of next year.

Rob Burnett, chief executive, said: “The investment involves the installation of new, state-of-the-art production facilities and upgrading existing plant and equipment in order to meet growing demand for the extensive range of meat-free products, crumbles and hot eating desserts made at the Fakenham site.

“It is great news for the local economy as we will be able to provide long-term employment and excellent career prospects for people looking to join one of the UK’s most progressive food companies.”

The expansion marks a remarkable turnaround for the factory. There were fears four years ago that due to declining sales and unsustainable losses, it was on the brink of closure, but extra time and resources spent on market research and the installation of new equipment was credited with helping to secure a turnaround, helping the factory to be extremely flexible in meeting clients’ needs.

It has also increased its market overseas and, in the last two years, branched into the field of frozen desserts.

The factory is still visited by Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney, whose late wife Linda created the original brand and opened the factory.

adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

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