The review comprises Aberdeen’s distribution, garage, tanker and retail operations and will now be the subject of a 30 day collective consultation process with up to 50 posts potentially affected in the city.
The proposed move, which will create 22 new jobs in central Scotland, follows the recent completion of a £15m ($18m) upgrade to its nearby Bellshill dairy, so that it is now capable of processing 370m liters of fresh milk products per annum.
Whilst the outcome of the collective consultation process will not be determined until the review is completed, the company has stressed that in the event that a decision is taken to proceed with the proposal, affected employees will be offered opportunities to relocate or will be supported should this not be possible.
The review comes against a backdrop of declining consumption of fresh milk and significant changes in retailing, including a greater requirement from customers for deliveries to large retail distribution centers, which are predominantly located in the central belt.
This has reduced the requirement for small depots, from which fresh milk processors traditionally delivered milk directly to stores, with Müller placing a strong focus on investing to create a network of ‘super-dairies.’
Ian Smith, CEO of Müller Milk & Ingredients Distribution said, “As we continue with our Project Darwin transformation program, we need to continually adapt to meet changing customer and consumer preferences.
“We’re facing into the reality of a decline in fresh milk consumption and significant changes in retailing. The volume going through our Aberdeen site has been severely impacted, and with the majority of our customers’ distribution operations now located in central Scotland, we need to take action.
“We are ready to consult to ensure that our operational capabilities meet the requirements of all of our customers both now and in the future and we will work hard with our employees and their representatives over the next 30 days to find the right solutions.”
Employees at Müller’s other sites in Scotland are not affected by the proposed changes.
Kate Cumming, area organiser for the trade union Usdaw, said, “Usdaw members working in Müller’s Aberdeen depot are clearly devastated by this announcement. We will now enter into meaningful consultations with the company to interrogate the business case for this proposal. In the meantime we are providing our members with the support, advice and representation they need at this very difficult time.”