First Milk Announces Mike Gallacher to Step Down as CEO, Succeeded by Shelagh Hancock

First Milk today (Wednesday 15 March) announces that Mike Gallacher is to step down as CEO and will be succeeded by Shelagh Hancock.


Over the last two years Mike Gallacher led a radical and successful transformation of First Milk, focusing on its core business in cheese and liquid contracts and divesting a number of loss making subsidiaries. Together with major cost savings and operational improvements, this has driven a c.£30M improvement in the financial performance of the business and corresponding improvements in returns to members. At the same time, the independent governance review initiated by Mike has led to major changes in how the Co-op is managed.


Shelagh Hancock has over 25 years’ experience in the food and agricultural supply sectors. Most recently she held the roles of Managing Director and Business Development Director at Medina Dairy where she led the development of strategic relationships and business growth with major retailers. Prior to this, she held a number of senior executive positions at the farmer-owned co-operative Milk Link including Milk Business Unit Director and Membership Director.


First Milk Chairman Clive Sharpe said:


“Mike has led First Milk through a period of huge change, with enormous levels of energy and focus. In addition to delivering a real transformation in our business performance he has also built an effective team and put in place the modern governance processes that will underpin our future success.


“Mike’s departure is not a surprise as he has been open about his plans. On behalf of the members and the Board, I want to express our appreciation for the outstanding results he has delivered.

Both Mike and I are delighted at the appointment of Shelagh who brings a wealth of experience to the role.”

CEO Mike Gallacher said:


“I am very proud of the huge progress made by all First Milk employees in transforming the business and in delivering improved results for our members. First Milk is now a very different business and customers and members can be confident in its future as a British Dairy Co-op


“The Board and I have worked closely on the CEO transition and I am delighted to see the appointment of Shelagh Hancock. Over the coming weeks we will be working together to deliver a smooth transition to ensure no loss of momentum as our business performance continues to improve.”


Commenting on her appointment as CEO, Shelagh Hancock said:


“As a firm believer in the principle of farmers working together for the benefit of each other, I am delighted to be working again for a farmer co-operative. I strongly believe that First Milk has got a bright future and as a British farmer owned co-op we’ve got great credentials to build on. There are still further opportunities to develop the core business and I am confident that we can continue to build a strong and vibrant co-operative capable of creating value for its customers, and most importantly for our members.’’

NFU Scotland’s President Andrew McCornick said: “With the new Single Application Form (SAF) window now open, NFU Scotland is encouraging its members to prioritise filling out their forms.


“In the past year, we have continued to liaise with Scottish Government to ensure that the significant improvements in the online applications system seen last year carry on into this year’s application process.  With 75 percent of applicants now using the online system, we want that process to go as smoothly as possible.  For those who want to complete the process on paper, we understand that these will be issued in the coming days.


“Farmers and crofters now have exactly two months to complete their forms, with the application window closing on 15 May and NFU Scotland is urging applicants to fill out their SAF as soon as possible, whether that is online, on paper or through their agent.  I fully appreciate that farmers and crofters will be stretched right now by the demands of calving, lambing and spring work, but I would urge anyone aiming to complete their own SAF by the deadline to make time sooner rather than later so that any problems can be ironed out quickly.


“With SAF online now open, the next few weeks will be an important barometer on what progress has been made with Scotland’s CAP IT system.  As well as completing applications, members are keen to hear from Scottish Government when balance payments for 2016 BPS and Greening will be made; some balance payments from the LFASS 2015 scheme remain outstanding and news on the delivery of the 2016 LFASS scheme is keenly awaited by our hill farmers and crofters. 


“Given the range of loans and balance payments, members and their accountants are also waiting on the clear statement that has been promised to all claimants, outlining exactly what money has already been paid and under what scheme.


“While we genuinely appreciate the efforts and commitment from many people within the Scottish Government to put right what has been an appalling IT fiasco, it is farm businesses that continue to be stretched.  We will continue to keep the utmost pressure on Scottish Government until the IT system delivers and Scottish farmers and crofters no longer have to battle in order to get the system to work.”


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