A GREAT Gransden company is looking to Eastern Europe for growth after breaking new ground in the Russian convenience food market.

A GREAT Gransden company is looking to Eastern Europe for growth after breaking new ground in the Russian convenience food market.

DC Norris & Company, which builds food manufacturing machinery, supplied equipment to Russia's first convenience food factory, which was opened by the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.

DCN designed, manufactured and installed the facility in St Petersburg, which will produce 40,000 meals a day for schools and the Russian Armed Forces.

The factory is a first step in an ambitious growth plan for the company - similar factories could be built across Russia, and DCN is already working on plans for sites in Moscow and Sochi.

Annabel Norris, marketing manager at DCN, said the opportunities in the Eastern European market would have positive repercussions at the company's Great Gransden base.

"This will lead to expansion for the company, in terms of premises and jobs. We have bought a 2.5-acre site next door to our existing premises, and we will double the size of the factory."

A new 2,000ft sq ft office block is also planned at the company's Sand Lane Industrial Park premises, with a new reception area and feature lake.

"QUOTE ABOUT NEW JOBS AND WHEN THEY WILL BE CREATED."

For the St Petersburg facility, DCN provided cooking kettles, cook-chill systems and tumble chillers, as well as a custom-built mashed potato processing system capable of producing more than a ton an hour.

DCN was commissioned by Concord Catering, a Russian company specialising in high-end banqueting and silver service catering, but which is branching out into ready-meal preparation.

Ms Norris said the move into Eastern Europe had come about after the Great Gransden company made the decision to market itself beyond the borders of the UK. Export sales now account for 70 per cent of DCN's business.

"We felt that we needed to look further afield, as the market had almost reached saturation point in the UK," she said. "It was a conscious attempt to market ourselves outside the UK, as orders were beginning to slow here.

"Concord is moving into ready meals, and they don't really have that in Russia, though they are everywhere in the UK. They are very keen to do it throughout the country, so there is huge potential."

The two companies worked together, trialling recipes in DCN's Gransden test kitchens and settling on machinery capable of turning out high volumes of soups, meatballs, porridge and pasta.

DCN was established in 1970, starting with a team of five. The company now employs more than 90 staff and manufactures some of the largest food processing plants worldwide.