The investment comes as it recently reopened its factory site in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire following a 24-hour closure to conduct a deep clean after 14 cases of coronavirus were confirmed at the site.
The £5m investment will see it focus on its innovation strategy called ‘Innov8 by Princes’, partnering with specialist agency Cubo. This will deliver innovation projects around brand creation, product design and development, packaging, commercialisation and channel strategy.
Innov8 will have four key areas of business focus – research and insight, new product development (NPD), process and packaging and new category development.
As part of the investment, Princes has constructed a new innovation kitchen at the company’s headquarters in the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool. It described the kitchen as a “state-of-the-art” facility, with a prep area, and showcase space, which will be used for live product testing and demonstrations, as well as interactive workshops with internal and external participants.
The company has also taken on six new full-time employees, including Kevin Evans, head of innovation and NPD, and Simon Stokes, senior development chef.
The company said it would use a bespoke online community of 800 UK consumers for a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research tasks.
‘Adapting to consumer needs’
Alan Eriksen, marketing director at Princes Group, said: “Along with all other food and drink businesses, we are adapting to constantly evolving consumer needs. We’ve changed the way our brands look and feel. We’ve invested in our sites to build for the future. And now we’re reimagining our innovation and NPD process, and putting it right at the heart of our business.”
He described the Innov8 by Princes and Cubo partnership as “an industry first” that would redefine how it approached innovation and NPD.
“The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered consumer behaviour and shopping patterns, so now is the time to listen and innovate as quickly as possible to respond to the changing needs of shoppers,” he added.
Princes said it expected the first product launches from Innov8 to reach the market within the next 12 months.