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Campbeltown Creamery looks set to close after the Kintyre farmers who hoped to buy the business have failed to find ‘a financially viable long-term business plan’.
First Milk has today (November 1) announced the start of employee consultation about its proposed intention to close the creamery, putting 14 jobs at risk.
The Campbeltown Creamery was put up for sale in April 2018 when First Milk announced that it was not core to its business strategy for the future. Despite significant effort over the last 18 months, it has not been possible to conclude the sale of the Campbeltown Creamery.
When it became clear that a sale to a third party was unlikely, the local Kintyre farmers launched a plan to take over the creamery. Despite considerable work to find a way to take the business forward, especially from their steering group, advisers, the Scottish Government and staff at Campbeltown Creamery, they have not been able to find a financially viable long-term business plan for the creamery.
Commenting on the announcement, Shelagh Hancock, chief executive, said: ‘We are disappointed that it has not been possible to conclude a sale of Campbeltown Creamery. We fully appreciate that this decision has significant consequences for colleagues at the creamery 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.
‘Throughout the last 18 months we have been in regular dialogue with our local members on Kintyre about the future of the site. Nothing will change in respect to their co-operative membership of First Milk, and we will continue to collect and pay for their milk on the same basis as before.’
James Barbour, chairman of the Kintyre steering group, added: ‘It was the right thing to investigate all avenues to see if we could keep the creamery open in Kintyre. There was widespread enthusiasm from the local farmers to try to secure the future of the site and genuine support from First Milk, the Scottish Government and the local community, along with a successful crowdfunding campaign.
‘Despite all of this we were not able to find a financially viable long-term solution for the creamery. I would like to thank everyone who has supported us through this period.’
John Smith, NFUS dairy chairman and local Kintyre dairy farmer, said: ‘My heart goes out to all the staff that work at the creamery and it is regrettable that the Mull of Kintyre brand that we have passionately supported will now no longer be available. That is due to the harsh, economic reality of processing milk in an incredibly tough dairy industry that has witnessed so many casualties at both farm and processing level in recent times.
‘While this is very disappointing news, it is reassuring that all of the local farmers are members of First Milk and will continue to benefit from being part of a national co-operative with an evergreen contract and continuing to have their milk collected in the future.’