The factory will be owned by the new firm, Princes Industrie Alimentari (PIA), in which Princes holds a 51% stake. The other 49% of PIA is held by ARIA.
Ken Critchley, md of Princes, said: “This transaction is a key development for our group and represents a significant step forward in our strategy for continued growth. It gives us a platform for further expansion into continental Europe and access to wider international markets and customers.”
The new markets will include North America and a wider range of European countries. ARIA “ supplies Italian tomato products internationally and has customers in markets that Princes does not”, said a spokesman.
Princes planned to continue to investment at the site in Foggia, Italy, he added. The 120,000m2 facility already processes about 400,000t of fresh tomatoes annually and employs up to 1,200 people at peak seasonal times.
It will continue to concentrate on producing tomato products such as canned peeled tomatoes, canned chopped tomatoes and tomato purees.
Princes is also seeking further “strategic partnerships” with other European firms to help grow its sales from £225M last year. The firm's business-model is based on sourcing product through supplier partnerships and new ones will be formed in Europe to continue Princes’ growth strategy, said the spokesman.
The purchase of Premier Foods’ East Anglian canning operations last year revealed the firm's commitment to expansion, he added.
Princes announced plans to form a new Italian company with long time partner, ARIA in January. PIA received regulatory approval yesterday (May 3).
The Princes Group now employs over 6,000 people, operates 14 major food and drink production sites and is on target to achieve annual sales in excess of £2bn.