First Milk announces Mike Gallacher to step down as CEO, succeeded by Shelagh Hancock

First Milk has announced that Mike Gallacher is to step down as CEO and will be succeeded by Shelagh Hancock.

Over the last two years Mike Gallacher led a radical and successful transformation of First Milk, focusing on its core business in cheese and liquid contracts and divesting a number of loss making subsidiaries. Together with major cost savings and operational improvements, this has driven a c.£30M improvement in the financial performance of the business and corresponding improvements in returns to members. At the same time, the independent governance review initiated by Mike has led to major changes in how the Co-op is managed.

Shelagh Hancock has over 25 years’ experience in the food and agricultural supply sectors. Most recently she held the roles of Managing Director and Business Development Director at Medina Dairy where she led the development of strategic relationships and business growth with major retailers. Prior to this, she held a number of senior executive positions at the farmer-owned co-operative Milk Link including Milk Business Unit Director and Membership Director.

First Milk Chairman Clive Sharpe said:

“Mike has led First Milk through a period of huge change, with enormous levels of energy and focus. In addition to delivering a real transformation in our business performance he has also built an effective team and put in place the modern governance processes that will underpin our future success.

“Mike’s departure is not a surprise as he has been open about his plans. On behalf of the members and the Board, I want to express our appreciation for the outstanding results he has delivered.

Both Mike and I are delighted at the appointment of Shelagh who brings a wealth of experience to the role.”

CEO Mike Gallacher said:

“I am very proud of the huge progress made by all First Milk employees in transforming the business and in delivering improved results for our members. First Milk is now a very different business and customers and members can be confident in its future as a British Dairy Co-op

“The Board and I have worked closely on the CEO transition and I am delighted to see the appointment of Shelagh Hancock. Over the coming weeks we will be working together to deliver a smooth transition to ensure no loss of momentum as our business performance continues to improve.”

Commenting on her appointment as CEO, Shelagh Hancock said:

“As a firm believer in the principle of farmers working together for the benefit of each other, I am delighted to be working again for a farmer co-operative. I strongly believe that First Milk has got a bright future and as a British farmer owned co-op we’ve got great credentials to build on. There are still further opportunities to develop the core business and I am confident that we can continue to build a strong and vibrant co-operative capable of creating value for its customers, and most importantly for our members.’’

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