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 successful 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 producer of premium brand sausages in the UK, also markets Prince Charles' brand, Duchy Originals.

Chairman of Driffield-based 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 which compliments North Wales Food, bought in October 2002. "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 being 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."

He added: "Despite the current trading environment the Board remains confident in its strategy for the long-term development of Cranswick and in the ability of the management team to continue the Company's growth."