Medina Watsons Dairy

Medina Dairy is to pump £3.5m into its Watson’s Dairy in Hampshire as part of a major upgrade in the site’s capabilities.

The fresh milk and bakery supplier is installing a high speed filling line, automatic trolley packing machinery and additional milk and cream silos at the site, which would help deliver “greater operational flexibility and efficiencies”, in addition to safeguarding 95 existing jobs and creating up to 25 new roles over the next six months.

The upgrade, which will be completed by late spring, would also allow Medina to expand its operational capabilities in the South East, and complement its recent supply contract wins with Sainsbury’s and Iceland. The dairy, based near Southampton, processes milk from 96 local dairy farmers.

Medina also had plans to ramp up investment in its £65m Watsons Milk brand, the processor said, noting it had a “growing customer base in the convenience retail and foodservice sectors of the market”. The processor returned to profitability last year, according to recently published accounts for the 52 weeks to 30 April. Sales rose by £4.1m to £160.9m, while group profit came in at £1.15m against a loss of £0.89m for the previous 12 months.

“This major investment at Watson’s will further enhance our ability to be a credible and competitive supplier of fresh milk & cream to major retailers,” said Medina MD Mike Sheldon.

“It will enable us to deliver greater operational flexibility and efficiencies, enhanced product segregation capabilities, and improved levels of customer service. Medina has already made strong progress winning major fresh milk supply contracts with the likes of Iceland Foods and Sainsbury’s, and this latest investment will enhance our offer to both existing and new customers.”