Scottish dairy co-operative First Milk has snapped up English peer BV Dairy for an undisclosed sum.

Negotiations around the sale started last year, First Milk told Just Food.

Commenting on the purchase in a statement, Glasgow-based First Milk’s CEO, Shelagh Hancock, said BV Dairy had “strong customer relationships and a reputation for quality and service across food manufacture and food service” which would in turn provide “a genuine extension to our business”.

She added that the purchase would expand First Milk’s “manufacturing and market reach, offering a platform for further growth and development”.

Farmer director and vice-chairman at First Milk, Mike Smith, also said the move would “bring wider benefits, adding value for our members whilst creating opportunities for our colleagues and enabling us to extend our regenerative positioning into a broader range of dairy products and customers.”

Founded in 1958, BV Dairy (Blackmore Vale Farm Cream), based in Dorset in southern England, makes a range of chilled dairy products for food manufacturers, hospitality and foodservice providers, across England, Scotland and Wales. It also offers contract manufacturing services.

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The company works with dairy farmers within a 30-mile radius from its Blackmore Vale-base and has a product portfolio encompassing yogurt, kefir, soft cheese, clotted and cultured creams and mascarpone.

None of BV Dairy’s 160 employees are to be impacted by the acquisition.

A First Milk spokesperson told Just Food “the business will operate as a business unit of First Milk and the same team will continue to process the same high quality local milk into the same products for the same customers.

“Indeed, we hope that being part of a larger organisation will offer our new colleagues more opportunities in the long-term.”

In the joint statement, Jim Highnam, managing director of BV Dairy, said: “Having made the decision to sell the business, we wanted to ensure that the new owners would provide a secure future for our customers, colleagues, farmers and suppliers.

“As such, I’m pleased to finalise this transaction and see BV Dairy become part of First Milk, as both businesses share a down-to-earth, pragmatic approach, balancing the needs of all stakeholders. I look forward to working with our new First Milk colleagues to continue to grow and develop BV Dairy.”

When asked why BV Dairy has decided to sell the company, a First Milk spokesperson said that Highnam is the last remaining family member working there, with “the next generation… unlikely to work in the business in the foreseeable future.”

They added that “the shareholders and directors concluded that new ownership could unlock the next phase of BV Dairy’s growth.”

Established in 2002, First Milk is owned by some 700 British farmers.

It produces a range of dairy goods, including Red Leicester, Cheddar and Double Gloucester cheeses, bulk cream, whey protein and fresh milk.

The co-operative owns two other British cheese creameries: one in the Lake District in north-west England and the other in Haverfordwest in Wales, which employ 220 people collectively.

Both spaces combined process 80,000 tonnes of Cheddar a year, First Milk said.

In the UK, it works with Pilgrims Choice cheese and Kerrygold butter brands owner Ornua Foods, with products distributed across major national retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Asda.

The business also exports internationally to 26 countries. Its largest raw milk customer is Switzerlaand-baased food ginat Nestlé, which uses its fresh milk in its beverages and confectionary unit.