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Note: can you leave a couple of lines for a First Milk quote – if we get one.
There was hope this week that a buyer could be found for the Torrylinn Creamery which is up for sale.
A number of discussions with interested parties have already taken place and at least one potential investor is in talks with owners First Milk, the Banner has learnt.
The owners announced last month that the Kilmory creamery, which first opened in 1946, was for sale putting the jobs of the six employers at risk, as well as threatening the main supply outlet for two Arran dairy farms. The Campbeltown Creamery is also up for sale.
Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson raised the sale at First Minister’s Questions last week asking: ‘What can be done to minimise the impact on the people who work at the creameries and in the local supply chain, including Arran and Kintyre farms?’
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon replied that the announcement was ‘very disappointing.’ However, she said, the sale of the sites offered an opportunity for the right approach to be taken by future owners to achieve a sustainable future for the creameries, farmers and local communities.
‘The cabinet secretary for the rural economy and connectivity (Fergus Ewing) is already working with officials to explore all possible options to save the creameries. That involves engaging fully with local agencies, partners and—which is important—the farmers, on work with potential investors, so that we can try to find a sustainable and viable way forward. I know that the cabinet secretary would be happy to meet with Kenneth Gibson to discuss the matter further.’
Mr Gibson told the Banner. ‘The Scottish government livestock manager Kevin Matheson has directly engaged with farmers on Arran and signposted them to contacts, one of whom is in touch with First Milk at this time with a view to taking over the creamery. A number of discussions with interested parties have also taken place.’
The managing director of Taste of Arran and Arran Dairies Alastair Dobson has been liaisimg and assisting with a potential sale. He says the creamery has lacked both investment in its machinery and in its marketing, partly shown by the decision to stop production of their popular Arran shaped cheeses.
He said it was imperative that anyone taking over the creamery had to revitalise their sales channels. He said that was where Taste of Arran could help by proving ‘market savvy’ and helping to use Arran to sell the brand both in the UK and abroad.
He said: ‘We have to treat the sale as an opportunity but have to realise that if not handled well it could become a crisis. The farms on Arran are integral to the rural community and I want to see more, not fewer, farms.’
Mr Gibson added: ‘I have spoken to cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing, who has asked that his officials put together what could be offered in terms of Scottish government and partners support.’
These include Scottish Development International, who will look to continue to offer international trade services and support any new operator. HIE Specialist advice services to provide support Introductions to Skills Development Scotland and their excellent Skills for Growth Service and the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service.
A spokesman for First Milk said: ‘