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Shareholders of Westbury Dairies Ltd announce joint venture with Arla Foods

Press Release   •   Sep 14, 2010 11:42 BST

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 Milk Link and First Milk 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, Milk Link and First Milk, 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.”

Arla Foods UK plc is home to some of the UK’s leading dairy brands including Cravendale, Lurpak and Anchor. Processing approximately two billion litres of milk a year Arla continues to be one of the UK’s leading dairy companies and a supplier of fresh liquid milk and cream to the top seven retailers.

Over 2,500 daily deliveries are made directly to stores nationwide and Arla brands can be found across the dairy category. As well as the leader of the butter, spreads and margarine sector, and a major supplier of other added value products including flavoured milk and cheese, Arla continues to build working relationships with Arla Foods Milk Partnership, a unique group of dairy farmers, which supplies around 90 per cent of Arla's total milk requirements.

Behind this leading business is a team of circa 2,800 people across the UK located at our dairies, distribution centres and head office.