19 June 1998

Wiseman profit up

ROBERT Wiseman Dairies has posted a 45% increase in operating profits to £18m for the 53 weeks ending April 4, 1998.

Much of the increase was due to a 31% increase in turnover to £252.7m, helped by a rise in liquid milk sales following the completion of the firms Manchester dairy and the acquisition of Scottish Pride last year. Overall volume rose to 584m litres, up 174m litres year on year.

Chairman Alan Wiseman explained that the company, which focuses on supplying liquid milk to multiple major retailers, had to remain competitive when setting ex-farm prices due to tight margins.

But he feared many farmers could go bust unless wholesale milk prices recovered. Average price paid per standard litre for last milk year was just over 22p in Scotland, slightly more in England. However, April prices dropped nearly 3.5p/litre. "The industrys infrastructure could be permanently damaged if milk prices remain at current levels," he said.

The company is continuing its push south. A new depot site is being sought in the Midlands, and plans for a new dairy to be built on a greenfield site are being finalised.