First Milk flag© Tim Scrivener

First Milk has announced the appointment of a new chief executive officer, symbolising the completion of a substantial financial turnaround by the processor.

The role will be filled by former Medina Dairy managing director, Shelagh Hancock, who will replace the outgoing Mike Gallacher.

Under Mr Gallacher’s two-year tenure the co-op underwent a significant U-turn in performance, including a £30m year-on-year improvement in operating profit in the 12 months to March 2016.

See also: First Milk turnaround plan sees big improvements

First Milk is undergoing a transitional period, expected to be completed by next month, during which the reins will be handed over to Ms Hancock.

Mr Gallacher said he was very proud of the transformation made by First Milk since he took over in March 2015.

“First Milk is now a very different business and customers and members can be confident in its future as a British Dairy Co-op.

“The board and I have worked closely on the CEO transition and I am delighted to see the appointment of Shelagh Hancock.

Over the coming weeks we will be working together to deliver a smooth transition to ensure no loss of momentum as our business performance continues to improve.”

See also: First Milk to repay deferred 2015 milk cheques

Ms Hancock said she firmly believed in the principles of farmers working together for the benefit of each other.

“I am delighted to be working again for a farmer co-operative.

“I strongly believe that First Milk has got a bright future and as a British farmer-owned co-op we’ve got great credentials to build on.

“There are still further opportunities to develop the core business and I am confident we can continue to build a strong and vibrant co-operative capable of creating value for its customers, and most importantly for our members.’’

Backing British

Ms Hanock, who will bring more than 25 years’ experience to the role, told Farmers Weekly that leaving Europe would create excellent opportunities for British products internationally.

“Brexit means British providence will be even more important for our industry in the coming years.

“It is a brand that guarantees quality which consumers can trust, creating the potential to increase demand in the UK and overseas.”