Tunworth and Winslade cheese

Source: Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses 

The deal comes less than six months after Butlers suffered a devastating fire at its Lancashire warehouse

Lancashire-based Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses has acquired the Hampshire Cheese Company, in a move it said made it the largest independent soft cheesemaker in the UK.

The family-owned business behind the Blacksticks, Button Mill and Kidderton Ash cheese brands snapped up Hampshire Cheese Co – which owns brands including Tunworth and Winslade – for an undisclosed fee. 

The multi award-winning Hampshire Cheese Co was founded in 2005 by Stacey Hedges.

It had amassed “a legion of fans for Tunworth and Winslade – two expertly hand-crafted, Continental-style soft cheeses that are revered among some of the UK’s leading chefs, Michelin restaurants and premium independent retailers”, Butlers said. It would now “work through a period of integration, and Stacey will be involved in that”, a spokeswoman confirmed.

The move followed a “significant investment” in Butlers’ soft cheese capacity over the past two years, with own-label and branded soft cheeses “driving Butlers’ mission to be a powerhouse in British farmhouse soft cheese”, the business added.

“Bringing two incredible cheeses like Tunworth and Winslade into our family is super exciting and consistent with our soft cheese strategy,” said Butlers’ fourth-generation owner Matthew Hall.

Read more: Butlers’ Blacksticks Blue cheese back on shelves after devastating warehouse fire

“The quality and reputation that Stacey and her team have established for Tunworth and Winslade is something we will be proud to nurture with their loyal customers,” he added.

“Over the years, Stacey has shared our mission to drive the British cheese renaissance in the UK and we are privileged to bring Tunworth and Winslade into our family, continue on that journey and get more of the amazing cheeses being made in Britain, to more people.”

The acquisition follows the purchase by Butlers of the Parlick sheep cheese brand in 2022, and comes less than six months after a serious fire at Butlers’ warehouse devastated its stocks – with Blacksticks only returning to the supermarkets at the start of February.

Butlers said it had maintained momentum in its soft cheese strategy, despite the fire.

The business was turning milk into cheese at the dairy “within hours” of the incident, ensuring its range of farmhouse soft cheeses were delivered to customers in time for Christmas, Hall told The Grocer last month.