This section will show our journey from 1947, when we delivered glass bottles of milk by horse and cart, to the present day delivering over 30% of milk in the UK.
The defining moments of Müller Wiseman Dairies
Robert Wiseman Snr founded Robert Wiseman Dairies in the new town of East Kilbride, in the West of Scotland.
In those days, milk was delivered by horse and cart and was sold in cans.
Those in the dairy industry have always known the health benefits of drinking milk and as early as the 1950’s the industry body, the Milk Marketing Board, began a series of well known advertising campaigns and slogans.
The 50’s saw one of the most memorable - “Drinka Pinta Milka Day”.
The use of cartons to pack milk become more widespread in the UK, as the Tetra Brick is launched and usage of glass bottles starts to decrease.
Whilst on a family trip to America, Alan saw that milk was being sold by the gallon in the supermarkets (no such places back home) and grocery stores. In the UK, at that time, milk was mostly sold through doorstep deliveries in half pints and pints. Alan realised that the American way of large quantities and store supply was the future for UK dairy.
Our Chairman, Alan Wiseman, joined the business straight from school, followed in 1975 by our Chief Executive, Robert Wiseman.
Recognising a change in the way people buy milk here in the UK, the company focus moves from doorstep to wholesale business.
On his sixtieth birthday, Robert Wiseman Senior handed over running of the business to his two sons, Alan and Robert.
Milk became widely available in plastic bottles in the UK adding to the decline in glass bottle use and as more and more local supermarkets began appearing, we began supplying a number of multiple retailers.
Freshnlo, the first semi skimmed milk in the UK, is launched and quickly became a firm family favourite.
The Eighties also brought about the fondly remembered catchphrase “Milk’s gotta lotta bottle”.
We built our first bespoke dairy in Bellshill, Glasgow. Allowing us to bid for and win our first supermarket and large contract business. Sir Bob Geldof featured in a television advert with the slogan "milk delivers bottle"
We also launched the “Black & White” brand, starting life as livery on our vehicles and then on our cartons and bottles!
We established our first English distribution site in Manchester, allowing us to supply the North of England.
What a year!
Robert Wiseman Dairies was listed on the London Stock Exchange.
The government abolished the Milk Marketing Boards across the UK allowing dairy farmers to sell their milk to whoever they choose. At this time Wiseman created the Wiseman Milk Partnership, a group of farmers contracted to supply their milk direct to Robert Wiseman Dairies.
Funded by the listing of the Stock Exchange, our first dairy in England was opened! Manchester Dairy opened its doors and begins processing milk which allowed us to gain a share of the English fresh milk market.
By the end of 1996, we were processing over 300 million litres of milk a year, giving us a market share of around 5%.
In year of our 50th Anniversary, Robert Wiseman Dairies acquired the liquid milk business from Scottish Pride. This was the latest step in a process of growth through acquisitions in Scotland during the 1990’s which included Kennerty Farm Dairies, the Scottish fresh milk business from Co-operative, Hamiltons Dairy and the fresh milk business from Mackie's.
Within 3 years we had doubled the amount of milk we are processing and we had already reached full capacity in Manchester Dairy! By the end of 1999, we had processed over 600 million litres in 12 months increasing our market share to around 12%.
A new Millennium and a new catchphrase from the new industry body, the Dairy Council – “The White Stuff. Are you made of it?”
There then followed a series of animated TV commercials featuring well known stars including George Best and Rolf Harris.
We opened the largest fresh milk dairy in Europe at Droitwich Spa, with a maximum capacity to process 500 million litres per year.
In 2003, with Droitwich dairy now fully operational, were processing over 1 billion litres of milk per year!
Robert Wiseman Dairies launch ‘the One’ – a milk with all the taste of semi skimmed but only 1% fat and created a brand new, fourth category of milk, 1% fat.
To further expand our coverage of the UK, we moved into the South East with the opening of our Northampton depot.
The acquisition of the Milk Link liquid milk business, means we now stretch from Keith in the North of Scotland down to Cornwall in the South of England.
We also launched Puriti, our extended shelf life milk with double the shelf life of our standard milk.
Our new Bridgwater Dairy opened in 2008 and is considered to be Britain’s most efficient and environmentally advanced fresh milk dairy. By the end of the year we were processing 1.5 billion litres of milk across the company – that’s an increase of almost 50% on 2003
Our new £14 million distribution depot at Amesbury, Wiltshire, came into operation in November 2009 and is our first site to run soley on our handheld and paperless systems from day one.
The systems are designed to improve efficiency and enable a faster transaction at point of delivery and they are already helping us serve our customers in London and the South East.
In July 2010, our Chairman Alan Wiseman stepped down with younger brother Robert taking on the role of Executive Chairman, marking the end of an era for Alan and the business that he had the vision, drive and determination to create.
In over 40 years under his leadership the company has been transformed into the UK's leading fresh milk company.
There have already been a couple of big milestones for us :
Friday 1st April at around 11.05pm in our Manchester Dairy the one billionth bottle the company has processed in the last financial year (year ending 2 April 2011) was filled, capped and coded.
This year also saw freshnlo, the UK's first semi skimmed milk celebrate it's 30th birthday! A firm family favourite since 1981 freshnlo is still going strong.
After 18 years as a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange, Robert Wiseman Dairies was delisted in early 2012 following its takeover by German owned dairy group, Müller.
Wiseman is now a wholly owned subsidary of Muller Dairy (U.K.) Limited