Sweet dreams are made of this!

LIFE keeps getting sweeter for Blackpool's biggest confectionery company.

Bosses at Tangerine Confectionery have reported a massive sales boost thanks to an "aggressive buy and build strategy" at its Marton base.

The company is now the fourth-largest sweet maker in the UK, behind Cadbury, Mars and Nestle.

It is a major supplier, providing an extensive range of sugar confectionery, including wine gums, midget gems and jelly babies for Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons, Co-op, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.

Its private label business accounts for about half of group turnover.

Today, the company said it had seen its sales rocket from 45m to 160m over the past three years.

The company bought the confectionery arm of Burton's Foods in 2006, boosting its products and manufacturing base.

And last year the company bought Yorkshire-based Monkhill from Cadbury Schweppes for a reported 58m.

Company chairman Steve Joseph said: "We've enough on our plate with what we have got at the moment.

"Trading is OK and we have done what we hoped we'd do over the last three years, maybe a little more.

"Our demand is relatively stable – most purchases are for less than 1 and when times are tough people tend to treat themselves.

"We're not counting our chickens, of course, there's a lot of work to do and more mileage to be had out of the businesses we have here."

Despite hikes in commodity and raw material prices last year – which have eased in 2009 – Tangerine's earnings before interest and tax rose 50 per cent to around 8m last year, and should grow by a similar level in 2009.

The Vicarage Lane sweet factory has been ranked 23rd in the PriceWaterHouseCoopers Profit Track 100, published by The Sunday Times this year.

It is the highest North West entry in the table, which lists the 100 private UK's companies with the fastest growing profits.

Tangerine now employs around 1,500 people nationally, including 400 at its Blackpool base.

It also has sites in Liverpool and four in Yorkshire, at York, Cleckheaton and two factories in Pontefract, as well as a plant at Poole in Dorset.