Lakeland and LacPatrick set to officially merge on ‘Brexit day’

The merger between Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick Dairies could be one of the country’s only business amalgamations that is now on track for completion by March 29 – the same date as Brexit.

According to Lakeland Dairies CEO Michael Hanley the merger will happen on that date despite, as he says himself, “the uncertainty” that is imminent.

“We are working now to bring the two businesses together by the end of March and while we appreciate that it coincides with Brexit – the plan is to keep forging ahead,” he added.

Hanley also admitted that while both parties are delighted to have reached this stage in the process – having announced the move back in October – the uncertainty of the last few days, he added, has cast a cloud over proceedings.

There is a lot of uncertainty and particularly since Wednesday (March 13).

“We will have to wait and see now what emerges from Westminster and then we will have to develop the model we are given.

“Half our business is in Northern Ireland and the other half of our business is in the south,” he said.

Competition authorities in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority – reached an agreement on the proposal last week on Tuesday, March 5.

‘Hanging in the balance’

The Lakeland chief went on to say that the Brexit outcome has been “hanging in the balance” for the last two and a half years.

We are waiting two and a half years now to see what the Brexit outcome will be.

“For us at Lakeland we are just going to have to work within the rules and regulations. Then we are going to have to maximise our preference for our farmers.

“We all wish there was no Brexit; but we have to deal with it now. LacPatrick will give us access to markets, access to milk scale, efficiencies, new technologies and routes to new markets – that is all very positive for the business.”

‘Strongest price’

The CEO went on to say that both parties were “energised and ambitious” to create strategic advantages in what is an intensely-competitive market environment.

“We intend to ensure the best possible realisation of the benefits of this merger for our members and for all of our customers around the world.

Significant work will have to take place to make the new organisation as efficient as possible and to return the strongest possible milk price back to our farmers.

Hanley then pointed out that the combined business had the potential to become “a powerhouse” of the global dairy industry.

“We must now work hard to realise that potential by creating economies of scale and combining our complementary product mix.

“We will leave no stone unturned in continuing the growth, development and success of Lakeland Dairies,” he concluded.