First Milk has appointed Chris Thomas as chairman of the UK-based dairy cooperative to replace Clive Sharpe, who is stepping down for personal and professional reasons.  

Thomas will become non-executive chairman of the manufacturer of the Mull of Kintyre and Campbeltown Creamery brands from 1 August. He is non-executive chairman of UK fresh vegetable supplier G’s Convenience Foods and UK food-to-go supplier Street Eats Food Ltd, as well as a non-executive director of seafood business Espersen.

Previously, Thomas served in various executive roles at Bakkavor, PepsiCo and Mars, among others.   

Thomas said of his appointment to the Glasgow-based firm: “It is great to be joining First Milk at this exciting time in the food sector. We face a period of huge change – both in the retail environment and with Brexit on the horizon – and change brings opportunities. First Milk has well established long-term customer relationships, efficient processing facilities, a stable financial position and a clear strategy for growth and I look forward to working with the business to deliver for its farmer members.”

In April, the company said it was selling two Scottish creameries in Arran and Campbeltown as they were no longer a “strategic fit” with the business. And in September last year, First Milk announced plans to cut 30 jobs across its Lake District and Haverfordwest creameries as part of a productivity and efficiency drive.

Outgoing chairman Sharpe added: “Since I joined First Milk back in 2016 I have seen the business through a period of major strategic and structural change. It has been a great pleasure to chair the Board through this period, however, due to significant changes to my personal circumstances, as well as other professional commitments, I now feel it is the right time to step down from the role.”