Dairy manufacturers Swaledale Cheese have been saved from liquidators by a group of entrepreneurs from Yorkshire. The Richmond-based cheese makers were in dire trouble before the group, consisting of Richard Darbishire, Bob Bigley, and Bengt Odner, swooped in to make the purchase.
First products launched
The trio were advised by Frazer Hall on the corporate finance side, and Glaysiers for the legal aspects. They will now be launching the first Swaledale Cheese products in both regional and national retailers in time for the Christmas season.
Darbishire has taken responsibility for the production side of the business. “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,” he said. “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.”
This will be fantastic news for the workforce, who had been at risk of losing their jobs – but will now be able to retain them for the foreseeable future. Keep an eye on our food job board to see if Swaledale decide to widen their available opportunities, or seek out more talented employees for key roles.
Restoring past listings
The Swaledale Cheese brand had previously been available for purchase in Waitrose. There were also independent retailers, wholesalers, and restaurants using the product or selling it, which meant there was already a known customer base to work with. Darbishire said that he was confident the brand would be able to restore their past listings to build for future success.
At the present moment, the wholesalers Cryer & Stott and Michael Lee Fine Cheeses are both stocking Swaledale. The retailer Lewis & Cooper in Northallerton has also put them back on the shelves.
The directors have plenty of experience between them. Darbishire was one of the first employees to join R&R Ice Cream in Leeming Bar, and stayed there for 17 years – rising to the role of procurement director.
Bigley also worked at R&R Ice Cream as the director of corporate development between 2010 and 2015, and was previously a director at Hambros Bank. Another of his roles was partner in charge of corporate finance in the north for the KPMG accountancy firm.
Bengt Odner has a more international past, with industry roles in the USA and senior banking and property positions across mainland Europe.
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