€9m deal will give farmers 70pc of Wexford Creamery
A GROUP of 350 Wexford dairy farmers is poised to pay €9m to increase its stake in Wexford Creamery Ltd from 20pc to 70pc.
The farmers, acting through Wexford Milk Producers (WMP), are snapping up the extra shares from London quoted cheese maker Dairy Crest.
The deal will see Dairy Crest retain a 30pc stake in the Irish business and "provide a range of services" including packing and distribution and selling Wexford-branded cheese into the UK market.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for WMP to determine our own future," said its chairman Michael Vaughan, adding that he was "pleased" the UK company was remaining involved.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Dairy Crest said the sale "allows Dairy Crest to concentrate on its key brands and facilitates the recent trend for dairy farmers to own more of the milk processing supply chain".
Employing 100 people, Wexford Creamery booked sales of €56m during the year ended March 2009.
The business sale comes as leading figures in the Irish dairy industry continue to talk of the need for consolidation after a difficult 2009.
Analysts last night said the sale had no material impact for this consolidation process, which is being championed by the likes of Glanbia and Kerry, who endured bruising results in some of their dairy markets last year.