Work on improving the former Müller dairy facility in Nerston has been completed, with the promise of more jobs on the horizon.
McQueens Dairies took over the site last year and have worked hard to create a state-of-the-art facility.
Due to open this spring, a number of factors – including the coronavirus pandemic – have delayed the unveiling of the facility.
But with a huge surge in demand for direct doorstep milk deliveries – 30 per cent since March – the 6.5 acre East Kilbride site is now up and running.
Chairman Mick McQueen told the News : “Investing in a new, large dairy is at the heart of the business’ growth plans.
“Our doorstep milk delivery business was growing significantly before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but we’ve seen significantly faster growth as people demanded safer and reliable food delivery services.
“Doorstep deliveries were already our core service so we were perfectly placed to respond quickly, efficiently and safely.”
The dairy’s production capacity has now more than doubled, allowing McQueen’s to confidently meet that demand.
The investment at Nerston will allow for investment in other parts of the business, such as distribution depot network, the firm’s fleet, and staff.
It is a huge boost for the town after the “catastrophic” closure of the Müller plant in 2016, which saw the loss of 131 jobs.
And Mick is confident that the 100-plus new jobs created in the last 12 months will be added to as the company continues to expand.
He added: “We have seen a clear change in consumer buying habits in recent months and are confident that demand for safe and reliable doorstep deliveries will continue.
“We have recently opened a new depot in Stockton on Tees which is already employing 25 staff delivering to doorsteps in County Durham and we’re looking at other new locations for additional distribution depots across Scotland and the north of England to meet that demand.
“We will look to recruit more milkmen and milkwomen to work across the whole of our distribution network.”
The family business was founded in 1995 by company chairman Mick and his wife Meg, and operate eight distribution depots in Scotland and the north of England.
The company currently employs over 500 members of staff, with the couple’s five children holding senior positions within the business.
Along with the latest dairy technology, the Nerston site includes a new refrigeration plant and pasteurising equipment, new filler lines and a significantly enhanced glass bottling line have been installed.
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In addition to milk products, the company also delivers orange juice, apple juice and free-range eggs to the doorstep.
McQueens buy their raw milk from First Milk, a co-operative owned and run by dairy farmers that will benefit greatly by the company’s expansion.
Fraser Brown, commercial director of First Milk, said: “The opening of the new production facility in East Kilbride and continued ambitious expansion is great news.
“We’ve been supplying McQueens for many years. Our farmers are committed to sustainable dairy production and we look forward to continuing to work with McQueens.”