Spar wholesaler James Hall & Co has bought a sandwich factory to supply Spar stores in the north of England, cutting Greencore out of the chain.

Hall has spent more than £1m buying the plant in Blackpool and seven lorries to help deliver the sandwiches. The new plant, formerly owned by Ashberry Sandwiches, will add £5m to Hall's turnover.

The wholesaler this month took over production of Spar's own-label sandwiches for the north of England. It is also producing a new own brand - The Great Northern Sandwich Company - that has six lines of 'full-filling' sandwiches that will complement Spar's range.

Previously, Spar retailers in the north of England bought 24 lines of Spar-labelled sandwiches from manufacturers Greencore or Ashberry, which delivered them directly to store.

As part of Hall's new scheme, retailers can now have sandwiches delivered six times a week and can order whichever lines they choose before 10am the previous day. Although Hall's does not offer the sale-or-return previously offered to retailers, it claims it will boost retailers' gross profit margin by 13% and there will be less waste.

In the new system's first week 58,000 sandwiches were sold compared with 37,000 previously, said retail director Peter Dodding "We think some retailers can double their sales of sandwiches," he said. "We are making retailers focus on a key area that generates high profits as well as additional sales as consumers buy other things along with their sandwiches. A 15-store trial found profits increased by an average of £5,000 a year through increased sandwich sales."

Savoury snacks were one of the few categories in food-to-go that grew in volume in the past year [TNS].

The sandwich production will be moved to Hall's new RDC when it opens at the end of 2010 in Preston and most of the factory's 40-strong workforce are expected to relocate there. When the plant is opened, it will diversify into fresh snacks such as pre-cut fruit and veg slices.