A group of Yorkshire entrepreneurs, who acquired the producer of Swaledale cheese from liquidators, have revealed plans to re-vitalise the brand.
Richard Darbishire, Bob Bigley and Bengt Odner bought the Richmond-based Swaledale Cheese business in July and their first products will soon be ready to hit the shelves of both regional and national independent retailers and wholesalers ahead of the Christmas season.
Mr Darbishire has extensive experience of the dairy industry as he was one of the first employees at Leeming Bar-based ice cream manufacturer R&R Ice Cream which started out in 1985 with just five staff and a turnover of £200,000.
The business is now part of a joint venture with Nestle called Froneri, a global ice cream business with more than 10,000 employees.
Mr Darbishire, who was there for 17 years, latterly as procurement director, is in charge of production at Swaledale Cheese.
Mr Bigley also worked at R&R Ice Cream, where he was director of corporate development for five years from 2010.
“Our intervention has saved this important UK cheese from extinction,” Mr Darbishire said. “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 added: “The brand was previously available in Waitrose as well as in leading restaurants, independent retailers and wholesalers. We aim to restore these listings.
“All our milk comes locally from a single source and we are focussing 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.”
Atley Hill Raw Milk at Scorton near Northallerton provides all the milk for the business and currently delivers some 4,000 litres of milk a week through Payne’s Dairies from its 70-strong herd of Ayrshire cows.