PROFITS at a Westhoughton food maker have dipped year-on-year, according to their latest trading figures.

But bosses at Stateside Foods, which specialises in own-label and branded chilled pizzas, say they are happy turnover is continuing to rise for the Wingates operation.

And management at the firm, which is part of the wider German Sudzucker group, has become the latest trader to sound alarm bells over the potential impact of Brexit.

Profits post-tax and operating costs came in at £4.45million for 2018-19, compared to £5.22million for the previous 12 months.

However it was also noted that revenues had topped £251.7million for the same period, as opposed to nearer £230.5for 2017-18.

The headcount had also remained fairly stable, from year-to-year, with 1,066 workers on the roster, chiefly in production roles.

In their annual report, company secretary Timothy Jones said: "We operate in a challenging environment, selling into the retail trade.

"This year's business performance has been in line with expectation.

"We will continue to drive costs out of our business in the coming year and are moving along the path of continuous improvement as a way of doing this."

He has told investors that the board is pleased to still being seen as a low-cost manufacturer, at one end of the market, and also capable of developing premium products for different consumers, at the other.

Mr Jones said that one of their commitments was to improve on their production facilities, which might signal developments at their Westhoughton factory.

This remained dependent on continued support from the parent company, he added.

Staff training and development also remained crucial, he said, with the intake from the company working towards chartered management and engineering management degrees having increased.

Several risk factors, for the year ahead, were also noted, principally around the potential impact of Brexit.

Mr Jones added: "Our concern grows as we approach Brexit on our ability to recruit staff in adequate volume to allow us to continue to grow.

"We are putting in place a series of strategies to mitigate this risk. We aim to fill vacancies from within as a priority."

The uncertainty over Brexit could also cause raw material prices to rise, investors have heard, as well as question marks arising out of their supply and availability.

Mr Jones said it was becoming more difficult to pass on cost increases from suppliers to the retail market, which in turn was seeing a further period of consolidation.