first milk nestle tanker

Dairy co-op First Milk has announced plans to cut up to 30 jobs at its creameries in a bid to improve their “productivity and efficiency”.

First Milk told staff today (19 September) it was launching a 30-day consultation, and is proposing the removal of 20 roles at its Lake District creamery and a further 10 in Haverfordwest. The consultation period will officially begin on 21 September.

The proposed job cuts follow a review of First Milk’s manufacturing sites by its new operations director Mark Robertson, who joined in June after a 30-year career which has seen him work for the likes of Milk Link, Glanbia and most recently as Arla’s manufacturing boss.

First Milk said some £40m had been invested at the Haverfordwest and Lake District creameries during the past five years, providing a “strong infrastructure” for the business. With the amount of cheese manufactured by First Milk set to increase next year, it had decided to “run the plants harder”, said a spokesman.

Trade unions had already been briefed, with the co-op “committed to working closely and constructively with them over the coming weeks and months”, it said in a statement.

“We have made significant capital investments at our manufacturing sites over the last few years,” said First Milk CEO Shelagh Hancock.

“These investments will continue, as the amount of cheese that we are manufacturing will increase next year and is forecast to grow further in the future in line with demand from our customer base,” she added.

“However, in light of this we recognise that we need to improve the strength, efficiency and flexibility of our main manufacturing sites and make the assets work harder. This will allow us to utilise both sites better and deliver improved returns to our farmer members.”

First Milk recognised “the impact of these proposed changes is significant for the people affected and we are committed to treating people with respect and consideration as we move through a 30-day consultation period”, Hancock continued.

“At our manufacturing sites our specific focus is on driving more for less - producing consistent good quality cheese, while concentrating on high productivity and factory optimisation. These changes are part of delivering this strategy.”

The supplier currently employs 80 staff at Haverfordwest and 89 at the Lake District site.