Bellshill workers appear to be the winners after Britain’s biggest dairy business announced plans to shake up its Scottish operation.
Muller Milk & Ingredients wants to invest £15 million over the next three years at its facility in Bellshill Industrial Estate where 192 people are employed.
It plans to close its smaller East Kilbride and Aberdeen dairies which it says are well underused.
The company said there are likely to be new jobs at the Bellshill dairy which was operated by Robert Wiseman before a Muller takeover four years ago. However, it stressed matters are very much “in the planning stage”.
Muller said the proposed investment at Bellshill will “improve efficiencies and competitiveness whilst giving the dairy the capability to broaden the range of products it is able to make with milk produced by Scottish farmers”.
It is now consulting on its plans which will affect 229 workers in East Kilbride and Aberdeen.
The firm pledged to “assess fully and evaluate” the proposals with employees and trade union officers. It stressed no decisions will be taken until the consultation is complete and its findings reviewed.
It’s proposed that the 43 farmers supplying Muller’s Aberdeen dairy will be offered the chance to continue provided they accept a 1.75p per litre transport charge which reflects the need to move the milk to Bellshill for processing.
Andrew McInnes, managing director of Müller Milk & Ingredients, said: “We aim to reinvigorate our fresh milk and ingredients business in Scotland, and propose to invest to make Bellshill a centre of excellence for dairy, benefitting consumers, customers, employees and farmers.
“The status quo is just not viable in the medium term. Our Scottish dairies are inefficient and costly which is putting a brake on the innovation and investment needed to stimulate new demand for dairy products.
“Our Aberdeen dairy is operating at less than 40 per cent of its capacity and milk production from farmers in the north east is far in excess of customer requirements in the area.
“Our small dairy in East Kilbride makes products including flavoured milks and potted cream and we believe that we can gain important efficiencies by relocating that production to Bellshill.
“We will enter the consultation with an open mind and assess the situation rigorously and listen to our colleagues before arriving at a decision.”