​Agriculture

BV Dairy sells to farmer-owned co-op First Milk as MD Jim hopes to keep family spirit alive

By Daniel Face [email protected]

Published: February 23, 2024 | Updated: 1st March 2024

BV Dairy has been acquired by farmer-owned cooperative First Milk following a bidding process overseen by PKF Francis Clark.

BV Dairy logoBased in Shaftesbury, BV Dairy was established in 1958 and has since been passed down through three family generations to current MD Jim Highnam.

The business sources more than 40 million litres of milk a year from farms within a 30-mile radius. They make soft cheese, yoghurt, clotted cream and gut health dairy products.

As for their new owners, the First Milk cooperative has around 700 members across Britain, supplying dairy products to leading businesses in the food sector.

With Jim considering retirement and no obvious successor within the family, the shareholders of BV Dairy had been considering a sale, and approached the corporate finance team at PKF Francis Clark to find a buyer who would protect their heritage and legacy.

Jim said: “We were delighted with the advice and support from the team at PKF. They were always available to guide us.

“Selling a business is a marathon not a sprint, and we were supported along every step by the professional and objective guidance of PKF.

“Our main contact was Chris Potts, who was always available to provide logical analysis and objective direction, with the minimum of fuss.”

Corporate finance director Chris was joined by Paul Stout, Brad Anderson and Nick Farrant in advising the BV Dairy shareholders on the sale process, while Lisa Whitbread and Michelle Cordy provided tax advice.

Chris PottsChris said: “Finding the right buyer is often as important for our clients as achieving the best price, and this was one of those deals.

“As a long-established family business and an existing client of our firm, we’re delighted to have helped the Highnam family to realise the value of their hard work over many years, knowing that the business they have built is now poised for continued success with the backing of First Milk.

“The family trust ownership of BV Dairy and cooperative structure of First Milk added interesting dimensions to the deal.

“There were further complexities regarding deal structuring and key customer contracts, which were successfully resolved through the hard work of all involved.”

Shelagh HancockShelagh Hancock, chief executive of First Milk, added: “I’m delighted to complete the acquisition of BV Dairy, a successful family-owned business.

“They share many common values with First Milk – a focus on people and community, environmental performance, exceptional quality and long-term value creation.

“We look forward to welcoming the wider BV Dairy family into our First Milk family.”

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