Scotland business

First Milk to sell two Arran and Campbeltown creameries

Arran Creamery Image copyright Google
Image caption The Isle of Arran cheese brand is made at the Torrylin Creamery

Creameries on Arran and in Campbeltown have been put up for sale by their owner, First Milk.

The firm said they required "significant investment" to sustain the premium cheeses made there under the Isle of Arran and Mull of Kintyre brands.

In a statement, First Milk said its Scottish sites could prosper with a new owner willing to invest in them.

They will continue to operate as normal during the sale process.

NFU Scotland said milk producers were "shell-shocked" by the announcement from First Milk.

First Milk chief executive officer Shelagh Hancock said the company was turning its focus to its creameries in Wales and Cumbria.

New ownership

She said: "Following a strategic review, we have determined that our branded consumer-facing businesses in Campbeltown and on Arran are not a strategic fit for First Milk moving forward.

"The review identified that there is undoubtedly a market for the premium Mull of Kintyre and Isle of Arran brands but capturing the opportunities would require significant investment for activity that is not core to our strategic direction.

"However, we are confident that with the right focus and investment under new ownership the businesses would prosper."

She said the company would work closely with prospective buyers to ensure "a smooth transition".

"We appreciate that this decision will affect some of our colleagues, but we hope that under new ownership the sites will thrive, offering good employment prospects for the future, she added.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Mull of Kintyre cheese is made in Campbeltown

NFU Scotland milk committee chairman John Smith, who supplies milk to the Campbeltown creamery, said: "The most important thing to keep in mind is that, in Mull of Kintyre and Arran cheddar, both creameries are making world-famous; award-winning high quality cheese and both sites should be hugely attractive to potential buyers.

"In the short term however, farmers supplying these creameries will be frustrated, justifiably worried but not completely surprised by the announcement.

"They have built their businesses with a view to continuing to milk cows and have stuck with First Milk through thick and thin. However, these are local, family farms who have also successfully invested in building and promoting their brand locally and nationally and we must now look to the future."

Mr Smith said the NFU had spoken to Argyll and Bute Council, the Scottish government and the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society regarding the announcement, with the next steps due to be discussed at a meeting next week.

Paul Grant, chairman of the Scottish Dairy Growth Board said: "There is a real opportunity here for someone to tap into a market with potential to grow.

"The model at Orkney creamery is working well and we would be keen to support any potential buyer for Campbeltown or Arran based on the experience and knowledge the Dairy Growth Board has built up over the last three years."