Dairy products company Lakeland Dairies has announced it plans to close three of its facilities, including one in Co Down, as part of its ‘new strategic direction’.
The firm announced it will close a milk production facility and its milk drying facilities in Co Monaghan as well as a butter churning, packing and powder storage plant in Co Down.
The drying facility and the site in Banbridge will close in June 2024 and the site sold, while the milk production facility in Monaghan will close in the first quarter of 2025.
This comes as part of the company’s new plan to transfer its milk production facility to a site in Killeshandra in Co Cavan, which was approved by Lakeland Dairies’ board “after detailed and careful consideration”.
The company said in a statement today (Wednesday): “The Lakeland Dairies site in Banbridge, Co. Down, which has acted as a butter churning and packing and powder storage site, with no milk being directly processed there for many years, will close in June 2024. A process to sell the Banbridge site will commence shortly.
“Regrettably, redundancies will be necessary to realise this strategy as operations will be ceased on the three sites. Exact details and numbers will be confirmed in due course but it is anticipated that 78 jobs will be impacted by the announcement. There will also be redeployment opportunities for some staff into vacant positions in the business.
“Lakeland Dairies has commenced an engagement and consultation process with staff and their unions directly. The remaining 1,300 Lakeland Dairies staff will not be directly impacted by this announcement.”
Milk processing plants at Bailieboro, Killeshandra, Newtownards, Ballyrashane and Artigarvan will continue.
Lakeland Dairies has commenced an engagement and consultation process with staff and their unions directly.
READ MORE: Northern Ireland businessman and former Bank of Ireland UK director appointed as new Danske Bank chief
The company’s CEO Colin Kelly, explained: “As a business, we continually assess how we can take long-term strategic decisions that will benefit the Society for this and subsequent generations.
“Lakeland Dairies is a co-operative with a heritage spanning nearly 130 years. We have a strong balance sheet, strategically located sites in ROI and NI, a high-quality milk pool of some 2bn litres produced by 3,200 committed farm families, a customer base in over 100 global markets, and we are well placed to meet future demands. However, we are approaching a decade that will be different from the one that the industry has just experienced.
“The industry has come through a period of significant volume growth following the removal of milk quotas in 2015. Lakeland Dairies invested over €350m to support the ambition of our farm families to produce this additional milk and meet the latent demand at farm level for expansion.
"The next decade will be less about large volume growth and more about value-added growth and adding capability throughout the business. This will be done to drive the best possible returns for our farmers and to continue to offer our loyal customers the highest-quality products while supporting our people and our communities.
“We do appreciate that this announcement creates uncertainty for our colleagues and their families. We will work closely with them and support them throughout this process in which they will continue to be treated fairly and with respect. While this is a difficult decision, it is a crucial one to ensure that Lakeland Dairies is future-proofed and well-positioned to meet the challenges as well as the opportunities of the future.”