Family dairy firm reveals plans for £20m Stirling processing, research and training centre

Scottish dairy Graham’s has revealed its plans to build a new £20m dairy, research and training facility in Stirling.

The proposal has the potential to bring 450 new jobs to Graham’s heartland.

Family Dairy new dairy concept visual3The Graham family, who have been farming in Stirlingshire for five generations, plan to create a new 150,000ft2 facility on farmland located west of Craigforth, directly opposite Stirling’s Agriculture Centre.

It would feature production lines for milk, cream, cheese and spreadable butter as well as a dedicated research and training centre to allow for new product development.

The new facility has the potential to bring an additional £20m per annum GVA into the Stirling economy and would be in addition to Graham’s current dairy at Airthrey Kerse in Bridge of Allan, its processing plant in Nairn and depots throughout Scotland.

A full planning application will be lodged to Stirling Council in June 2015 following a period of public consultation.

The plans respond to the huge potential that exists in Scotland to produce and market premium Scottish dairy products in 2015, the Year of Food & Drink and is closely aligned with Stirling Council’s new economic strategy, with its focus upon creating a climate for investment in the creation of high quality jobs and opportunities for all.

The Scottish Rural Affairs and Climate Change committee recommended in February 2015, that investment in the dairy sector is essential. Areas that will really strengthen the industry and in so doing, create a sustainable future are in apprenticeships, training, career development product research, design, marketing, logistics, management and by building the right processing facilities that respond to, and shape, consumer trends.

The plans revealed today will make a significant contribution to Stirling’s economic strategy by placing the City and region at the heart of Scotland’s food and drink sector.

Once built, the existing dairy at Airthrey Kerse in Bridge of Allan will concentrate on butter and ice cream and remain the Graham’s family home.

Launching the project, Robert Graham managing director of Graham’s The Family Dairy and grandson of the founder, said: “It is a hugely exciting time to run a business in Scotland. There is so much potential in the dairy industry.

“Far more can be done in Scotland to produce and market premium Scottish dairy products and as we have seen through our brands, there is huge potential to add value to milk through products such as cheese, cream, yoghurt and, in particular, butter.

“Investing in Stirling runs through my family’s history and our business. That is why we want to build the new dairy processing, research and training centre here, in Stirling.

“Stirling is our home. It is where we farm, live and, from our dairy at Airthrey Kerse, employ more than 500 people throughout Scotland. Stirling has the key attributes a business needs; a high quality education system, accessibility, dynamic business culture, an outstanding environment and an ambitious and inspiring city economic strategy.

“Our research forecasts that by combining a new, modern dairy processing facility with a research and training centre that has strong links into the local education system and a proactive local recruitment policy, Graham’s can significantly strengthen the Stirling economy and place the City at the forefront of the Scottish food and drink sector.

“We are excited to have found the perfect location for such a venture. Being within the Stirling city corridor it can enable the benefits in terms on job creation, expenditure and new infrastructure to be harnessed within the City. It has excellent transport infrastructure, a landscape that can accommodate the scale of enterprise envisaged and the ability to consolidate around series of the rural based land uses and grow this business cluster.

“The new dairy will cost in the region of £20m and would deliver a step change in the Scottish dairy sector. To set this scale of investment in context our business turnover for year 2014 was £85m, with a profit margin of under two per cent. We are constantly reinvesting into the business and the Graham’s brand with a capital expenditure of £15m invested in the last six years and more than £4.5m earmarked for 2015.

“However, we will not borrow the sums required to finance this venture. This would place the whole business, 500 staff, 98 farming partners and their families, and all those who rely upon us at risk. The £20m capital expenditure for our new dairy is subject to the outcome of our Airthrey Green development proposals currently sitting with Stirling Council. This exciting and much needed housing and amenity project on our land at Airthrey Kerse would provide significant capital to strategically invest in the long-term future of our business. Should these not come forward then Graham’s will have to continue a multi-site investment programme across Scottish that would inevitably be at the expense of the Stirling economy.

“It will enable us to accelerate research and production of added value dairy products across areas, which could include spreadables, organics, gluten free and nutritional “grab and go” children products.

“The time for this investment is now, to protect the industry against market volatility.

Developing the right processing capacity to design, manufacture and market new dairy brands is central to achieving this national aim. Continuing our family tradition, I wish to make this investment in Stirling.”

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