New joint venture partner at Westbury Dairies

First Milk and Milk Link have announced that they have agreed terms for Arla Foods UK plc (Arla) to become a shareholder in Westbury Dairies Limited, the joint venture company that operates the country's most modern skimmed milk powder and bulk butter production facility located in Westbury, Wiltshire. In doing so, they have agreed to sell a minority share in the company to Arla.

Westbury Dairies will remain strategically important for both First Milk and Milk Link and it will continue to provide long term balancing requirements for both businesses, along with Arla in line with their strategic requirements. The addition of Arla to the joint venture will reduce the share of the costs borne by the original shareholders, First Milk and Milk Link, and provide a more economic balancing solution for all three businesses.

The joint venture secures the long-term future of Westbury Dairies.  As such, it will continue to play an important role in providing the key balancing capacity necessary for the British dairy industry to meet its annual peaks in production, particularly in support of the fresh liquid milk market.  Looking forward, all three parties will work to explore ways to develop further the potential of the Westbury site to complement its existing skimmed milk powder and bulk butter production capabilities.

Commenting on the announcement a Westbury Dairies spokesperson said:

"Arla becoming a shareholder, we believe, is a positive development for Westbury Dairies Ltd, the site and the wider British dairy industry.  Westbury undertakes a very valuable role as the country's major milk balancing facility.  At certain times of the year, such as the Spring flush, the facility is very busy but at other times activity is minimal resulting in the site's overall operational costs per unit being high and today's announcement of our partnership with Arla we believe will help address this."

Commenting on Arla becoming a shareholder in Westbury Dairies, Peter Lauritzen, CEO of Arla Foods UK plc said: "Today's announcement marks the next strategic step for Arla in the UK. This joint venture with Milk Link and First Milk in Westbury Dairies will give us access to the high quality balancing facilities which we require, following the closure of our Northallerton creamery."

14 September 2010