Jobs set to be created after it buys struggling brands and aims to increase output, says boss
At least 30 new jobs will be created by Dale Farm over the next year as it seeks to keep growing, its chief executive has said.
David Dobbin, group chief executive of United Dairy Farmers, told the Belfast Telegraph there would be jobs growth of around 30 people over the next nine months in its Dunmanbridge site, where the company has ploughed millions of pounds into refining the process for extracting whey protein from cheese. It is also the location where Dale Farm makes Dromona cheddar cheese. In May, the company bought cheese brands like Ballyblue blue cheese, Ballybrie and Boilie goats' cheese pearls from the Fivemiletown group after it ran into financial trouble.
Mr Dobbin said Dale Farm had reversed sales decline of the brands, adding: "Our aim or objective would be to grow the business. The products are good and we would hope to improve their marketing and increase output.
"We would like to get the facility to a size where it's more competitive."
Mr Dobbin said he hoped to take on more staff at the Fivemiletown facility. But he did not say how much United Dairy Farmers had paid for the Fivemiletown brand – but did say the company was paying rent to the farmers in the Co Tyrone co-operative. "It's working out very well between the two co-operatives."
Sales of Mullin's ice-cream had also been growing since Dale Farm bought the Kilrea business in April last year, particularly in the Republic. Mullin's was also manufacturing separate products for Dale Farm, he said.
Dale Farm would continue to focus strongly on growing domestic sales, he said, while export was suffering because of a six-year high in the strength of the pound. "Domestic sales are doing very well but export business is struggling a little bit because of the currency.
"It [export] is not going backwards but it's not growing as fast as it was. Last year we had very strong growth from exports and good growth from domestic –but now that's reversed."
Mr Dobbin said he had been with the company for 15 years. "During that time consumer product sales have grown eight-fold and ingredients are up 50-fold."