Venture leads to loss for cheese maker

The makers of Wensleydale cheese fell into the black last year following a £5m investment programme.

Wensleydale dairy farmer, Kevin Clarkson, and Wensleydale Creamery managing director, David Hartley.

Wensleydale Dairy Products made a pre-tax loss of £182,460 in the year to the end of March 2016, down from a £493,000 profit in 2015, which it said was due to the projected benefits of a major investment programme not being fully realised.

Turnover fell to £26.1m, down 3.5 per cent from £27m the year before. The firm said sales fell as a result of milk price deflation.

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The business, which supplies UK supermarkets as well as delicatessens, invested in a new creamery at its site in Hawes as well as cheese blending and packing facilities at its Kirkby Malzeard site.

The firm said its visitor centre, which attracts 250,000 visitors per year, continued to perform well, while volumes increased 2.4 per cent.

Managing director David Hartley said: “In 2015, the business undertook a major long-term investment programme to increase capacity and efficiency. This was primarily to deliver new state-of-the-art cheese-making facilities at our Hawes site, and cheese blending and packing facilities at our Kirkby Malzeard site.

“This investment is already delivering and directly contributing to new orders and sales growth from our existing customer base and new customers, both in domestic and international markets. We confidently project we will return to profit for the current financial year.”