The Business on: Robert Wiseman, Chairman, Robert Wiseman Dairies

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The Independent Online

The milkmen's milkman?

Well, sort of. Although it has been a few years since Mr Wiseman was out and about delivering pints at the crack of dawn, this is a family business and the chairman insists that he and his three siblings all did milk rounds when they were kids.

And then he took over the company?

In the end, but he spent decades working at the business before succeeding his elder brother, Alan, last year as the man in charge.

So how did the Wisemans get into the business?

The current generation's father, also a Robert, founded the dairy in East Kilbride in 1947. Early deliveries were made by horse and cart.

Is it all high-tech stuff now?

As much as dairy farming can be – though the business headquarters remain in East Kilbride, where the family still lives. The company takes milk from 250,000 cows living on 2,000 farms all over Britain.

Is business good?

Yes and no. The company has taken its market share from 2 per cent to 20 per cent over the past 20 years, which is impressive. But a milk price war in the supermarkets is currently taking its toll. It said yesterday that while sales were up 7 per cent in the first half of its financial year, profits were down by almost 4 per cent.

So he's not the cat who got the cream, then?

Well, a salary of more than £800,000 a year and a holiday home in Spain aren't bad compensations for the stress of the job. And the Wisemans own only a third of the company these days, having floated it on the stock market in 1995. Still, aged 55, Robert doesn't expect to retire at 60 like his brother did.

And he gets a bit more sleep these days?

Sadly not. Mr Wiseman says that once you've got used to getting up for the 5.30am delivery round, there's no going back. Besides, he has seven children, the youngest of whom is just three, which is another stress to contend with.