First Milk announces plans to close one of its Scottish creameries

First Milk has announced plans to close one of its Scottish creameries after it failed to find a buyer for the site.
The firm first put two of its Scottish sites – Campbeltown and Arran Creameries – put up for sale in April 2018.
However, today announced that despite “significant effort over the last 12 months”, it had not been possible to conclude the sale of the Arran site.As a result, First Milk has today commenced employee consultation about its proposed intention to close the creamery.

First Milk can also confirm that it is in discussions with its local Kintyre farmer members, with the active involvement of the Scottish Government, which will hopefully conclude with the Campbeltown Creamery being owned by the local farmers.

It is envisaged that the farmers will form a new co-operative who will operate the creamery independently of First Milk.

Due to the ongoing economic performance of the Campbeltown site, and in anticipation that the scale of the operation is likely to change under this new ownership, First Milk has also commenced consultation with colleagues at Campbeltown about proposals to scale down the operation.

Commenting on these announcements, Shelagh Hancock, chief executive, said: “We are deeply disappointed that it has not been possible to conclude a sale of Arran Creamery.

“We remain hopeful that it will be possible to secure the future of the Campbeltown Creamery in the ownership of the local farmers and the proposed changes that we have announced today will help with that.

We fully appreciate that these developments have significant consequences for colleagues at the Creameries and the local community, but it is important that we act in the best interest of the wider business and our farmer members and continue with the solid progress we have made in strengthening and developing First Milk.

“We regret the impact this decision will have on our colleagues and are committed to treating those affected fairly and with consideration during this difficult time.”

NFU Scotland Milk Committee chairman John Smith said the news was “extremely disappointing”.

“There has been a cloud of doubt hanging over both factories for the past 15 months, since First Milk announced their intention to offload the creameries in April 2018, and this decision is, unfortunately, the outcome,” he said.

“NFU Scotland has been involved and offered support to the communities over the past year, with several of our members certain to be affected. Being a dairy farmer from Campbeltown, I am well aware of the implications this announcement will have on the dairy supply chain and the wider community.

The lack of dairy processing in Scotland is a serious concern for our industry, especially with the uncertainty of Brexit looming, and loses like these only make the dairy supply chain that little bit more vulnerable.

“Despite the scaling down of production in Campbeltown, we welcome the news that First Milk has confirmed it is in discussions with local Kintyre farming members, with the active involvement of the Scottish Government, which will hopefully conclude with the Campbeltown Creamery being owned by the local farmers.”