Mars Chocolate opened a £6m R&D facility in Slough yesterday, featuring new laboratories and a pilot production line.

The centre will be responsible for developing new products and packaging for the UK, as well as markets as far afield as China.

Bringing together several separate facilities in a single site, the new facility would enable the 100-strong R&D team to work collaboratively with teams in other departments, Mars said.

The centre also contains new equipment that Mars Chocolate innovation director Geoff Bryant said would let it do things that were previously impossible.

“For example, the pilot production line will allow us to start with a single prototype and scale right up,” said Bryant. “We didn’t have the space before.”

The facilities will also be used to help Mars Chocolate deliver on its pledges under the Responsibility Deal. Bryant said better aeration of chocolate is one of the avenues it is pursuing to reducing calorie and fat content.

Mars Chocolate president Fiona Dawson opened the site alongside and business & enterprise minister Michael Fallon.

“We are very proud to be officially unveiling our new R&D facility today,” Dawson said. “I liken Mars to an old house that you need to keep investing in. This is a very special year for us as we look to the future with our new facility while celebrating 80 years in the UK.”