Jobs boost as dairy firm McQueens buys Müller factory

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

McQueens Dairies (l-r): sales director Ruairidh McQueen, chairman Mick McQueen, and commercial director Calum McQueen
McQueens Dairies (l-r): sales director Ruairidh McQueen, chairman Mick McQueen, and commercial director Calum McQueen

Related tags Dairy Finance Training

Scottish dairy producer McQueens has purchased the former Müller factory in East Kilbride as part of a multi-million pound expansion plan that includes 100 new jobs in two years.

The 26,300m2​ East Kilbride site, which is expected to open in spring 2020, would allow the business to accelerate its growth aspirations in doorstep deliveries, McQueens said.

Its current dairy and distribution centre at the M8 Food Park in the north of Glasgow had reached capacity, the firm added.

Müller announced in 2016 that it was closing the East Kilbride facility with the loss of 131 jobs.

McQueens Dairies was founded in 1995 by company chairman Mick McQueen and wife Meg. In addition to its Glasgow dairy, it operates eight distribution depots in Scotland and the north of England, having opened its latest depot in Galashiels in May 2019.

The company currently employs 400 members of staff, with the couple’s five children holding senior positions. Turnover grew 30% in the past year, and McQueens said it expected that increase to be repeated this year.

Milk direct to customers’ doors

Mick McQueen said the company was an “ambitious business”​ that delivered milk direct to customers’ doors and it wanted to build on the success achieved so far. He also claimed to be “very excited”​ about creating many new jobs as a result.

“Our success to date has been by focusing on the demand for doorstep delivery, both here in Scotland and in the north of England,”​ McQueen said. “We know that many people purchase milk from supermarkets, but our business is about delivering milk direct to the consumer, whether that is doorsteps or businesses.

“Our current dairy and distribution centre in the M8 Food Park in the north of Glasgow has reached capacity and doesn’t afford us any scope to expand, so the move to a purpose-built dairy, just 12 miles away and still within easy reach of our tens of thousands of customers, makes perfect sense.”

As part of the expansion, McQueens planned to increase its requirement for raw liquid milk supply from farmers through supply partner First Milk.

‘Using the dairy in a different way’

McQueen said: “We will be using the dairy in a different way to how it was used before, which was predominantly to produce flavoured milk and potted cream.

“We’ll be focused on processing liquid milk, along with orange and apple juices. A large part of our investment will be in modern dairy technology, including new refrigeration plant, pasteurising equipment and a filler line that includes glass bottles – which are having a resurgence with our customers.”

First Milk commercial director Fraser Brown said his company looked forward to continuing its milk supply partnership with McQueens as it grew and developed its business.

“We are proud to supply them with high-quality, farm-assured fresh milk directly from our farmer members, with full traceability – something we know is important to all customers,”​ he added.

McQueens Dairies has more than 100,000 milk delivery customers across Scotland and in the north of England, served by distribution depots in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, Galashiels, Mansfield, Huddersfield, Warrington and Preston.

Meanwhile, Müller confirmed in May it was to close its Foston plant in South Derbyshire​, affecting 228 jobs.

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