PKF Francis Clark advises on sale of BV Dairy to First Milk

Third-generation family business BV Dairy has been sold to farmer-owned cooperative First Milk, following a competitive bidding process led by PKF Francis Clark.

Based in Shaftesbury, BV Dairy was established in 1958 by the family of current managing director Jim Highnam. Sourcing over 40 million litres of milk per year from farms within a 30-mile radius, it produces a range of specialist, high quality chilled dairy products, including soft cheese, yoghurt and clotted cream. BV Dairy also manufactures gut health dairy products for a leading brand in this growing market.

First Milk is a farmer-owned cooperative with around 700 members across Britain, supplying milk, cheese and other dairy products to leading businesses in the food sector.

With Mr Highnam considering retirement and no obvious successor within the family, the shareholders began exploring the potential sale of the company. As an existing client of PKF Francis Clark, BV Dairy asked the firm’s corporate finance team to find a buyer who could maximise its opportunities for growth while protecting the family heritage and legacy.

A team comprising Paul Stout, Chris Potts, Brad Anderson and Nick Farrant advised the shareholders of BV Dairy on the sale process, with tax advice provided by Lisa Whitbread and Michelle Cordy.

Jim Highnam, managing director of BV Dairy, said: “We were delighted with the advice and support from the team at PKF. They were always available to guide us at every step of the way. Selling a business is a marathon not a sprint, and we were supported along every step by the professional and objective guidance of PKF, who were always available to provide logical analysis and objective direction, with the minimum of fuss.”

Chris Potts, corporate finance director at PKF Francis Clark, 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 are 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.”

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.

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