Cheese maker saved from liquidation

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Swaledale Cheese new directors Bob Bigley, Bengt Odner and Richard Darbishire
Swaledale Cheese new directors Bob Bigley, Bengt Odner and Richard Darbishire

Related tags: Dairy

Richmond-based cheese maker Swaledale Cheese has been acquired from liquidators by a group of Yorkshire-based entrepreneurs.

Richard Darbishire, Bob Bigley and Bengt Odner acquired the business in July, with the purchase advised by corporate finance firm Frazer Hall and lawyers Glaysiers.

The dairy processor’s first products will hit the shelves of both regional and national independent retailers and wholesalers soon – ready for the Christmas season.

Darbishire, who is in charge of production, said: “Our intervention has saved this important UK cheese from extinction.  We are confident that, by aligning our capabilities with the growing demand for our products and further developing the skills of our workforce, we will be able to restore the company to its rightful prominent place in the UK cheese sector.  

‘Specially-designed, on-site facilities’

“All our milk comes locally from a single source and we are focusing on seeing that both our blue and natural cheeses are fully matured and ripened in our specially-designed, on-site facilities to produce that unique Swaledale flavour.”

Previously available in upmarket retailer Waitrose – as well as in leading restaurants, independent retailers and wholesalers – Darbishire was confident that the brand would be able to restore past listings.

The range is currently available from wholesalers such as Cryer & Stott and Michael Lee Fine Cheeses, as well as retailer Lewis & Cooper in Northallerton. 

Meanwhile, last month, Welsh dairy processor GRH Food Company was bought out of administration for an undisclosed sum,​ securing the future of dairy production in Snowdonia.

Meet the directors

Richard Darbishire has extensive experience of the dairy industry and was one of the first employees at Leeming Bar-based ice cream manufacturer R&R Ice Cream, where he stayed for 17 years. He held the role of procurement director for the business before he left.

Bob Bigley also worked at R&R Ice Cream, where he was director of corporate development for five years from 2010. A former director of Hambros Bank, Bob was also partner in charge of corporate finance in the north for accountants KPMG. 

Bengt Odner has held industry posts in the USA as well as senior banking and property roles on mainland Europe.

Related topics: Dairy, Operations

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