YORKSHIRE food producer Cranswick - which counts Thornaby company Lazenby's among its brands - has announced a 27 per cent increase in profits to £22.2m.

The sausage plant continues to make a successful contribution to the annual results for the 12 months to March - which saw Cranswick's turnover increase by five per cent to £237.7m.

Lazenby's, which is one of the biggest producers of premium brand sausages in the UK, also markets Prince Charles' brand, Duchy Originals.

The chairman of Cranswick, Jim Bloom, said: "It is pleasing to report on a successful year that has seen Cranswick's unbroken growth record continued and the company broaden the base of its activities with the development into the supply of sandwiches and sandwich fillings."

The firm paid £15m for The Sandwich Factory in October 2002.

Mr Bloom said: "Sales in the food activity, which accounts for over two-thirds of the company's turnover, increased by 11 per cent to £165.4m, with particularly strong growth in sales of gourmet sausages and continental food products."

However, Mr Bloom issued an apology to pig producers - after the company found it had been underpaying for pigs sold to the pig marketing business for a number of years.

"Provision has been made to correct this. Changes have been made to the management of this activity, and the company, which has its origins in pig farming, apologises sincerely to its suppliers.

"Despite the current trading environment, the board remains confident in its strategy for the long-term development of Cranswick."