First Milk bulks up its Board with WHS muscle

MIILK CO-OP First Milk has beefed up its board with the appointment of former WHSmith director Beverley Hodson as a non-executive director.

Mrs Hodson will also sit on the board of Robert Wiseman Dairies following First Milk’s acquisition of 15% of the milk processor’s share capital at the end of last year.

The move follows the appointment of former Unilever chairman Richard Greenhalgh as the co-op’s chairman and has increased speculation that First Milk is planning a major investment.

An obvious target would be to increase its stake in Robert Wiseman, but a spokesman would not comment, apart from saying: “We are working towards a change in our business.”

Meanwhile, Wiseman told shareholders at its AGM that milk volumes were 12% on the year, though it has yet to feel the loss of its Morrisons contract, which will occur in October.

Chairman Alan Wiseman said plans were being finalised on cutting costs ahead of the changeover, and a spokesman said that could mean job cuts.

“We have got to look at costs and bring them back into line with the volumes of milk that we process. We’re not ruling anything out yet.”

But there is positive news too, as the dairy’s new “Pure” extended shelf-life milk has shown good sales, Mr Wiseman said.

The milk, which lasts for four weeks, is initially being sold only through Tesco under a six month exclusivity deal.