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The company

History of Arla in the UK

Through Express Dairies plc we can trace our roots back to 1864 when George Barham, the son of a London dairyman, formed the Express Country Milk Supply Company, near Kings Cross Station in London.

Meanwhile, our Scandinavian history through Arla Foods can be traced through Scandinavia's co-operative dairies, back to a farm called Stora Arla Gard in Sweden in 1881.

Arla History in the UK

Arla Foods' links with the UK began at the turn of the century when Lurpak butter was introduced to the UK market. The liquid milk business was then built up from acquisitions since 1990, complementing the existing cheese and butter business.

The major milestone in Arla Foods plc and Express Daries plc's more recent history was on 22 October 2003 when the two companies mergerd and formed Arla Foods UK plc.

Of the shares in the new company 51 per cent were owned by Arla Foods amba.

The first year of trading as Arla Foods UK plc saw the company continuing to build its popular dairy brands, forge closer relationships with its milk producers, Arla Foods Milk Partnership, develop leadership in technology and provide growth potential for its customers, which included the opening of Stourton dairy, one of Europe's most technologically advanced dairies.

The programme to streamline the company's operations began at the end of 2003 and resulted in the closure of Bamber Bridge dairy, Newcastle dairy, Ruislip dairy and the glass bottling line at Hatfield Peverel.


Early 2005 saw the closure of its wholesale cheese business HT Webb while completion of phase two at Stourton dairy brought additional Cravendale milk capacity and Arla's new £18m dairy at Lockerbie began production in December. In October 2005 Arla sold its London Foodservice business to Dairy Crest.


The rationalisation programme continued in 2006 when Dairy Crest acquired the Express doorstep side of the business including Arla's Liverpool and Nottingham dairies for £33m creating the UK's leading doorstep and middleground business.

On 20 October 2006, Arla Foods UK plc and Arla Foods amba (a co-operative owned by approximately 9,400 Danish and Swedish milk producers) announced that they were in discussions for Arla Foods amba to acquire the remaining 49 per cent of shares in Arla Foods UK plc which it didn't already own.


In April 2007 Arla Foods UK plc subsequently delisted from the London Stock Exchange and became a subsidiary of Arla Foods amba.


In July 2008, Arla Foods UK plc closed its Sheffield Park distribution facility near Uckfield.


In a bid to improve efficiencies in February 2009 the company closed its Appleby depot.

At the start of 2009, Arla Foods UK plc, announced that it was to invest more that £70m at its flagship dairy in Stourton to expand production at the site to process a range of fresh dairy products, including fresh cream and Crème Fraîche and will allow Arla to manufacture cottage cheese for the first time in the UK. To increase efficiencies it was also announced that during 2010, once the expansion at Stourton was complete, production at Northallerton would cease and be transferred to Stourton, resulting in the closure of the Northallerton site.

Arla Foods amba is one of Europe's largest dairy companies sourcing approximately 8.4 billion litres of milk a year and employing 16,500 people worldwide with Arla products sold in more than 100 countries.

In November 2009, Arla Foods UK confirmed that it was to invest in building a new one billion litre liquid milk processing facility on the outskirts of London. The announcement followed a previous intention from Arla Foods amba that it would make significant further investment in the UK business as part of its UK growth strategy. On 23 November 2011 Aylesbury Vale District Council approved Arla’s planning application.


In September 2010, it was announced that Arla Foods UK plc and Milk Link had entered into a joint venture to operate the country's most modern skimmed milk powder and bulk butter facility in Westbury, Wiltshire.


Following the joint venture agreement Arla also announced that from November 2011 it would produce retail packet butter at the Westbury site.


In May 2012 Arla Foods amba and Milk Link announced the proposed merger of the two companies to create one of the largest European dairy cooperatives.

Following the production of retail block butter at Westbury in August 2011, Arla announced in August 2012 that it was to extend its UK manufacutred butter offering by producing Anchor block butter on site from September 2012.

In September 2012, Arla Foods amba and Milk Link announced that regulatory approval for the merger was granted by the European Commission and subsequently the two companies merged on Ocotber 1, 2012.


In October 2013, Arla Foods amba approved the proposal for MPL to become co-owners of Arla Foods amba and subsequently the farmers of the cooperative voted overwhelmingly for them to join.


On January 1, 2014, Arla Foods amba almost doubled the number of British farmer owners following a further 1,300 taking up the offer of becoming co-owners of Europe’s largest dairy cooperative.

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