Campbeltown Creamery turns sour for First Milk

First Milk's Campbeltown Creamery.

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Workers at Campbeltown and Arran creameries heard this week that First Milk (FM), a farmer-owned mutual, has put the factories up for sale.

Currently the site employs 26 people but has been ‘financially challenged’, according to First Milk.

Local dairy farmer Linda McLean said: ‘The potential for Campbeltown creamery, with its award-winning cheese and provenance, is something to be shouted about, rather than any negative headlines which are no help to the local area in the long run.’

A spokesperson for First Milk said: ‘We believe new ownership is the best option for these businesses to grow and become more profitable.’

FM chief executive officer Shelagh Hancock, who was in Campbeltown last week, said: ‘Following a review, we have determined our branded consumer-facing businesses in Campbeltown and on Arran are not a strategic fit for First Milk.

‘A sale would enable us to continue with our focus on developing our major creameries in Haverfordwest and the Lake District.’

According to a source, who preferred not to be named, bosses told creamery workers that the farmer-owned co-operative is pulling out of Kintyre.

The spokesperson for FM added that the review identified there is undoubtedly a market for the premium Mull of Kintyre and Isle of Arran brands.

The spokesperson said: ‘However, both require significant investment for activity that is not core to our strategic direction.

‘We are confident that with the right focus and investment under new ownership the businesses would prosper.

‘Campbeltown and Arran creameries will continue to run as normal during this sale process and we will be working closely with prospective buyers to ensure a smooth transition.

‘We appreciate 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.’

The Campbeltown creamery was acquired in 1997 (initially as a JV) and the business was purchased outright in 2007.

The FM spokesperson added: ‘In terms of the asking price, our focus is on seeking a buyer who will invest and provide the right focus, ultimately securing a positive future for the business and so the asking price will be a matter of discussion, based on what a potential buyer is prepared to pay.’