Soft drinks manufacturer Princes is making a £40 million vote of confidence in its Bradford operation in a move that will keep the city at the forefront of the food and drinks sector.

The Liverpool-based group will invest more than £40 million over the next 12 months transforming the site on Weaverthorpe Road in Tong, which is the group’s largest soft drinks factory.

Princes has started the first phase of construction work after undertaking initial groundworks to prepare the site.

The site, which has been owned by Princes since 1991, employs more than 300 people and produces more than 400 million bottles of fruit squash and carbonated soft drinks a year. A company spokesman said while the investment was not directly linked to job creation, expansion of the site could lead to more employment in the longer term .

Ken Critchley, managing director, said: “This strategic investment ensures the site’s ongoing status as one of the leading soft drinks production sites in the UK.”

More than 31,000 sq metres of new warehouse and production space will be created as part of the investment to increase production and storage capacity and improve efficiency.

Old office blocks and other redundant buildings have been demolished to make way for a warehouse, which will house all soft drinks products produced at the site before they are sent to stores and wholesalers across the country.

The main production building will be connected to the warehouse to convey products for storage and distribution without the use of vehicles, helping support the company’s environmental target to reduce road miles.

Princes is also investing in a new central syrup manufacturing facility.

Coun David Green, leader of Bradford Council, said: “Clearly, it’s more good news for Bradford that a major business is investing in the city when there is much bad news about the general economic climate.

“We very much welcome Prince's decision to develop its Bradford site.”