Wensleydale Creamery secures £17.9m deal to boost production

The Wensleydale Creamery, home of the famous Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, is investing in new equipment to increase production capacity following a £17.9m deal with HSBC UK.

The business plans to increase production to significantly grow sales, which will help to create jobs and provide a sustainable future for the local farms supplying the creamery.

The deal, along with an EU productivity grant of approximately £800,000 will enable the creamery to modernise its cheese-making facilities, with the purchase of new vats, working tables and cheese-making and curd-handling equipment.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The equipment will improve efficiency and the working environment for its cheese-makers.

Wensleydale Creamery is in a strong position to keep growing.

A new cheese smoking plant, along with water recycling and increased milk storage capacity are also being planned.

In addition, almost £1m of HSBC UK’s funding will go towards a cheese blending and waxing facility, allowing the business to blend cheese more efficiently with a production line.

By-products from the cheese-making process at the creamery are being taken to Iona Capital’s bio-gas plant in Leeming, North Yorkshire where it is converted into electricity to produce around 10,000 MWh of thermal power, which is enough energy to heat around 800 homes.

David Hartley, inset, the managing director of Wensleydale Cheese, said: “The support from HSBC UK will allow us to increase and improve production across the creamery. By investing in new, modern equipment, we can improve our efficiency as well as improve process control with technical excellence.

“It puts us in a strong position to grow the business and meet customer demand for our brand and products. HSBC UK provided sound guidance and showed enthusiasm for our growth plans.”

Gordon Forster, the area director for HSBC UK, said: “HSBC UK is a huge supporter of rural British business and Wensleydale Creamery is a much-loved British food brand, crucial to the economic well-being of the deeply rural area in which it is situated, and we’re delighted to help with its growth plans.

“David and his team have shown great commitment and strategic thinking behind their plans for sustainable growth and we wish them every success moving forward.”

Sally Bowen, the financial director at Wensleydale Creamery, was advised by Stuart Henry, a relationship director at HSBC UK.

The Wensleydale Creamery produces 4,000 tonnes of cheese a year at its Creamery in Hawes, North Yorkshire. It employs a workforce of 230 and supplies some of the biggest retailers in the UK.

It currently exports its cheeses around the world and is particularly popular in North America, Middle East and Europe. Its visitor centre also attracts 350,000 visitors each year.

Last month, Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes showed off its produce to visitors at its annual Cheese Festival.

Cheese-making in Wensleydale dates back to 1150 when Cistercian monks began the craft, and the heritage is being celebrated by the creamery.

As many as 30 different suppliers attended the festival’s marquee, and the creamery also hosted cheese and butter-making demonstrations.

The popularity of Wensleydale Cheese has soared in recent years through its association with the animated duo, Wallace and Gromit.