The frozen food firm Iceland has revealed its strategy for strengthening its chances of growth, and offset the recent negative impact of the horse meat scandal.
Loxton Foods, which was bought by the company last year, was renamed as Iceland Manufacturing in April 2013, and is now being used to produce the supermarket's own ready-made meals in order to cut costs.
Malcolm Walker, chairman and chief executive said: "This strategic acquisition of a key supplier was designed to strengthen our competitive edge further by enabling us to accelerate the rate of product innovation and to secure the benefits of vertical integration."
The company's annual results appear to have offered further encouragement for the chain, as it reported an 18.5 per cent increase in pre-tax profit, while growth in sales stood at 9.4 per cent.
It also opened 33 new stores and created 1,250 jobs during that time.
Commenting on the results, Mr Walker said: "During a very busy year for the group we have not only delivered strong results but also strengthened our focus through the sale of the Cooltrader business, taken an important step towards vertical integration with the acquisition of our own ready meal manufacturing facility, and laid the foundations for further growth of the Iceland brand internationally."
The company stressed that it was determined to offer the best possible service in terms of frozen food production, which it said explained its decision to launch 400 new frozen own-brand products over the course of the last year.
Some of the most popular products during that time included its Roast from Frozen and Perfectly Cooked ranges.
Much like rival firm Tesco, Iceland suffered a huge blow to its reputation on the back of the horse meat scandal, but said that every part of the supply chain would now be subject to a "rigorous, ongoing testing programme", which it says will help to ensure that its products meet industry standards.