NORTH east Fife is facing a major jobs blow with the news that Wiseman’s Dairy outside Cupar may be set to close.
The company has opened a 30-day consultation on the future of the Cupar distribution depot and its 68 employees.
Martyn Mulcahy, operations director at Robert Wiseman Dairies, said the depot may no longer be needed due to changing customer needs.
He said: “Whilst we continue to make gains in growing our business in Scotland, it is important that we match our facilities with our future operational requirements.
“It is right that we properly review the viability of this site going forward and our intention is to use the next month to consult with staff representatives before arriving at a decision.”
The company has pledged to work with workers’ union USDAW and said that if the depot does close they would seek to minimise job losses.
It was hope dthat staff – most of whom are drivers – could be relocated to depots in Tullos near Aberdeen and Whitburn.
It is understood that while the demand for milk in Scotland has increased overall, the loss of some customer contracts – including those from local authorities – has also had an impact on the Cupar depot.
It is also more common now for buyers such as supermarkets to have milk delivered to their own distribution centres instead of to local shops, as may have previously been the case.
Mr Mulcahy said that following the 30 day consultation, in which he said staff will be asked to give their views, the company would complete its strategic review and then come to a decision.
While cuts in demand for milk from the public sector have contributed to the situation Wiseman’s is now facing, it refused to blame the current economic climate or the UK Government for the surge in fuel prices.
“Every company which has a distribution network is affected by fuel costs but we can’t blame the Government; this is about changes to our business and how we respond to it,” said Mr Mulcahy.
North East Fife MSP, Iain Smith, said he hoped to meet with the company to discuss their proposals.
He said: “This is disappointing news and will undoubtedly make for an anxious month for the employees at the depot.
“I hope the company will take a long term view of the role of the depot rather than looking for quick cuts.”
The news comes amid growing uncertainty about the future of RAF Leuchars and fears of the knock-on effect any closure would have on jobs and the local economy.