Dairy start-up moves into pastures green with outstanding growth

A Bideford-based dairy business has achieved exponential growth in its first year of trading after securing significant contracts in both the UK and overseas, and launching new product ranges, with the support of a £1.6million funding package from Lloyds Bank.

Millbrook Dairy Company, which was founded in 2019 by respected dairy industry experts, David Evans and Kevin Beer, supplies a diverse range of the highest quality British and Irish cheese and butter to a growing home market and international customer base in the USA, China, Canada and South America.

The invoice finance facility and loan from Lloyds Bank has helped the Devon business to maintain its operations during the coronavirus crisis, and has enabled the firm to accelerate growth and expand its contracts with leading UK and European cheese buyers, including a leading UK player in the retail sector. 

It has also allowed Millbrook Dairy Company to develop and launch its own-label product range, which is being specifically targeted to meet an uplift in demand for British products. The business has sold over 10,000 tonnes of cheese since its launch last year, exceeding forecast tonnage by 300%. 

Employing seven staff, Millbrook Dairy Company had to furlough one employee at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in April but has since brought the individual back to work to help meet the uplift in demand. 

The company has reported inaugural annual turnover of £15.5million, outperforming its initial expectations by more than 500 per cent. The business has now revised its growth forecasts for its second year of trading, with ambitions to reach £19million turnover.

Kevin Beer

Kevin Beer

Kevin Beer, co-founder of Millbrook Dairy Company, said: “David and I have worked in the dairy industry all our lives and it’s great to be able to bring our experience to the fore in our own business. The food and drink industry is already geared towards strict hygiene standards and, in some ways, has seen a smoother transition into the ‘new normal’ since restrictions began to lift, than some sectors.

“No one could predict the effects of the virus initially and throughout that time, Lloyds Bank’s support and its willingness to grow with us as a business has been crucial to our growth trajectory. In the last few weeks, we’ve been finalising a new in-house line of our own cheeses along with a host of new ideas and plans for the next twelve months – we are looking to forge a new future combining growth and innovation.”

Jon Cockbain, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “UK dairy exports have been growing steadily over the past decade and Millbrook Dairy Company has capitalised on this trend to establish a highly successful business from the offset. It’s been encouraging to see the business meet and exceed its maiden growth targets in what’s been a very difficult time and we look forward to continuing to support the dairy in the next phase of its development and beyond.”

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.