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Dorset’s BV Dairy sells to First Milk in deal led by PKF Francis Clark

26 February 2024
The Business Magazine article image for: Dorset’s BV Dairy sells to First Milk in deal led by PKF Francis Clark
BV Dairy's Shaftesbury HQ

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

Based in Shaftesbury, Dorset, 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. It makes soft cheese, yoghurt, clotted cream and gut health dairy products.

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

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

Sell-side legal advice was provided by a team at Trowers & Hamlins, including Stuart Mathews, Matthew Libby and Luke Cummings. Buy-side legal advisers were Peter Allen and Bethany Grummitt at Browne Jacobson.

Financial, tax and commercial due diligence for First Milk was carried out by a team at PwC, led by Drew Stevenson.

Read more - PKF Francis Clark advises on sale of Dorset’s DP Seals to Swedish conglomerate

Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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