Dairy pays bonus to staff who beat snow

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The Independent Online

Dairies firm Robert Wiseman said today it was paying £100 bonuses to its 3,500 staff for battling through the snow to keep the nation's milk flowing.

The bonus, which is costing Wiseman £400,000, comes after record sales in the week to January 9 when the weather disruption was at its height.

Wiseman said sales were more than 10 per cent above a normal week as shoppers bought in supplies. It received "exceptional feedback" from its supermarket customers.

The staff bonus was "in recognition of the efforts made by our employees in getting milk collected, processed and delivered at this difficult time", the firm said.



Wiseman buys, processes and distributes more than one in every four litres of fresh milk consumed in Britain every day.

The Glasgow-based firm's staff will receive the extra cash in their pay packets today after working longer shifts to meet seven-days-a-week dairy production.

Chief executive Robert Wiseman said: "In the past few weeks, our staff met every challenge thrown at them. We successfully delivered record orders for milk during some of the worst weather conditions we have ever experienced."

The firm was already under capacity pressure after gaining a major contract with the Co-operative Group and other deals following the collapse of the Dairy Farmers of Britain collective.

But last month the firm completed the capacity increase of its Bridgwater dairy from 250 million to 375 million litres a year, which eased the pressure on its other sites, and was used in meeting the record demand.

Its new depot at Amesbury in Wiltshire opened in November and also helped it serve customers in south east England. Wiseman expects to return to six-day working at its dairies within the next few weeks thanks to the extra capacity.

Sales volumes were slightly ahead of management's expectations in the 17 weeks to January 23 thanks to the increased demand.

The firm has gained a one-off boost from a spike in global dairy prices which sent bulk cream prices up to £1,700 a tonne in October. They have since eased back to £1,130 and margins will fall back, Wiseman added.

The group has six other major processing dairies apart from Bridgwater, in Aberdeen, East Kilbride, Glasgow, Manchester, Droitwich Spa, and Okehampton.

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