17 April 1997

Marque trims staff numbers

MILK Marque aims to cut its costs by £3m this year. Having announced the departure of chief executive David Yeomans last week, the co-operative also confirmed that seven other staff had been made redundant and four more had resigned.

Little is known about why Mr Yeomans decided to step down after only two years as chief executive. Company secretary Paul Beswick has been promoted to managing director.

As well as cutting staff numbers, Milk Marques £3m saving will come from a cut in the number of shows attended. The co-op will have stands at only the Royal Show, the Royal Welsh and the Dairy Event. It also plans to increase the shifts operated by milk tankers, meaning more out-of-hours collection from farms, to improve transport efficiency.

Milk Marques long-term antagonists, the Dairy Industry Federation, welcomed Mr Beswicks promotion. Gordon Summerfield, DIF president, said he hoped the federation could look forward to constructive dialogue with the farmers co-op. "It is clear that the current selling system isnt working and needs reforming," he said.

"But lets not forget," he added, "It was Milk Marque which developed the selling system and negotiated assurances with the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) without involvement from the dairy companies.

"We are willing to discuss improvements to the system and that offer remains," said Mr Summerfield. "I think everyone would welcome a period of stability and predictability in raw milk supply."

Why David Yeomans left Milk Marque remains a mystery.