LEICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM — PepsiCo UK said it is investing £58 million ($72.2 million) in its Walkers brand Leicester facility. The investment, which is PepsiCo UK’s largest in the last 25 years, will support the installation of a new manufacturing line, updated equipment to increase sustainability and improved employee facilities, according to the company. Since 2020, PepsiCo UK has invested more than £120 million into manufacturing and supply chain operations.

Walkers snack brand produces crisps and snacks and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It recently was named Britain’s third biggest grocery brand by trade website The Grocer, which noted that Walkers’ total sales last year reached £1.25 billion.

“In 2023 we’re celebrating 75 years of Walkers crisps, so there’s no better time to renew our commitment to Leicester — a city and community that have been crucial to our success in the UK,” said Jason Richards, senior vice president and general manager, PepsiCo UK and Ireland. “As we look ahead to the next 75 years and future-proof our UK operations, this £58 million investment will transform our manufacturing site and installing state-of-the-art equipment will help us deliver on our ambitions on packaging and health. Alongside upgrades to meet increased demand for our snacks, we’re proud to be investing in creating better facilities for our people, who remain at the heart of bringing our most loved snacks to households across the country.”

The planned updates have four focus areas that support the company’s pep+ sustainability initiative to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. The installation of the manufacturing line will both expand production capabilities and help reduce the plant’s carbon footprint by moving production from Europe to Leicester. According to PepsiCo, when the construction is completed in 2024, transportation-related emissions will be reduced by an estimated 915 tonnes per year.

Other sustainability plans focus on the facility’s equipment. PepsiCo plans to transition from gas-powered ovens to electric ovens that are run with 100% renewable electricity. This switch will cut around 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the company. In addition, the company plans to reduce virgin plastic use in outer packaging by 56 tonnes a year with new compact packaging equipment.

According to PepsiCo, the investment also will support technology to help develop healthier snack options within the Walkers brand. By 2025, the company aims to have half of Walkers snacks sales be portions of 100 kcal or less or do not classify as HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar).

At the Leicester facility, which employs 1,120 people, the upgrades are poised to create new training and upskilling opportunities to manage new equipment and technology. Employee facilities also will be refurbished with training areas, an on-site restaurant, meeting rooms and a “dedicated celebration space,” according to PepsiCo.