The Scottish creameries were put up for sale in April 2018 when First Milk announced that its Campbeltown and Arran creameries were not core to its business strategy for the future.
Despite what the company said was a ‘significant effort over the last 12 months,’ it has not been possible to conclude the sale of the Arran site. As a result, First Milk has commenced employee consultation about its proposed intention to close the Arran Creamery.
First Milk also confirmed 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 cooperative 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 started consultation with staff at Campbeltown about proposals to scale down the operation.
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.”
James Barbour, chairman of the Kintyre milk producers working group, said, “First Milk has worked hard to secure a sustainable future for the Campbeltown Creamery over the last 12 months. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure an external buyer and yet we believe that it is important to retain processing capacity on Kintyre for the long-term security of the dairy farmers here. As a result, we are working together to try to secure the site for the future, although there is still considerable work to do to bring this to a conclusion.”