Lancashire bakery chain Halls is preparing to pilot an ’e-canteen’ concept in Chorley in the next few weeks.

It hopes to sign up 12 local companies with around 100 employees for the scheme. Staff will be able to order and pay for lunch on the Halls website. It will then be delivered to them in boxes by department by one of Halls’ mobile shop vans. The empty boxes would then be taken back with the next day’s delivery.

Operations director Pete Gronback said full details of the system were still being worked on, but trials would start in the next two months, with a couple of local businesses. The Chorley-based family-owned bakery, with four shops and two mobile shops, has also revealed plans to expand via a network of self-sufficient satellite businesses. It plans to open a business in Preston in the next few months, owner Joe Hall told British Baker.

The firm has lined up two potential sites for a central bakery there, both with an attached shop. It would then open four extra sites, served by that bakery. "This will be a local business with local suppliers, employing people from the local area," said Hall. "The issue of food miles is only going to get bigger and this is the solution. You have to develop your business outside the box."

He added that he would go on to create a further business in Wigan in the next 18 months, following a similar model.

The company expects to turn over £1.2m this year.