New Covent Garden Food owner Daniels Group is investing £8.5m in a new factory where it will produce new branded lines.

New categories and ­formats were planned, said chief executive Rob Burnett. These included a branded range of ready meals. The company had learnt lessons since the failed attempt last year to launch a ready meal under the Sprout brand, he added.

The Grimsby factory opens in March and will also specialise in chilled own-label ready meals and new frozen soups for catering, as well as New Covent Garden soup.

The factory, formerly owned by Bakkavör business Mariner Foods, is expected to add £40m of sales to the £170m business in its first year. Burnett said the company was eyeing further acquisitions in Grimsby.