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22 December 2003
Sunday Herald
Graham's is cream of the crop with 16.3m turnover

Graham's Dairies, Scotland's largest family-owned milk supplier, has seen turnover jump by 18% to (pounds) 16.3 million in the year ended March 2003, according to latest accounts filed at Companies House.

The Bridge of Allan-based business has grown its sales from just (pounds) 3m five years ago through a mix of acquisitions and organic growth and disclosed that pre-tax profits rose 46% to (pounds) 822,393.

Robert B Graham, managing director, said: 'It is a very competitive market as there are a lot of smaller family-owned businesses who are very competitive. It has probably been our most competitive and challenging year ever. But we are confident we can continue to grow this business and continue to look out for strat-egic acquisitions.'

The business, which employs 190 people and focuses on supplying the middle market across central Scotland which comprises independent retailers, hotels and restaurants. Typical customers include chains such as Lidl, Londis and Costcutter.

It also moved into the maintstream supermarket sector with the launch of a premium range of cream, butter, Jersey and organic products. The company keeps 500 Jersey cows at its Boquhan Home farm in Stirlingshire.

The business's recent growth has been fuelled by acquisitions including that of Cumnock-based Stevenson Dairy Farm, Fife-based Deanhead Dairy and the Edinburgh -based Cockburn Farm. Graham, 33, said each had been 'funded out of cashflow.'

Graham added: 'We've seen the benefits of a full year of the Express Dairies acquisition. We were able to buy a big chunk of their business after Express's decision to rationalise their business.'

Graham's has also embarked upon a (pounds) 1m expansion of its Bridge of Allan headquarters, in the largest capital investment it has ever undertaken.

The company has also invested in the an advertising campaign which is being co -funded by Scottish Milk, Robert Wiseman Dairies, Express, Inverurie-based Mitchells and the Milk Development Council.

The campaign features celebs including David Coulthard, Nell McAndrew, Big Brother winner Cameron Stout and the pop group Atomic Kitten sporting 'milk moustaches'.

Last year the Office of Fair Trading closed an investigation into the Scottish milk supply market. Robert Wiseman Dairies was raided by the OFT in 2001, along with Graham's, George Ballantyne Dairies and Scottish Milk over cartel claims.

The OFT looked into the all-egations but said the probe had not provided sufficient evidence to the requisite standard to prove the allegations.

GRAPHIC: Keeping it in the family ... Graham's Dairies chairman Robert Graham snr and managing director Robert Graham jnr

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