ABOUT 70 farmers have been left in limbo after an embattled Flintshire dairy went into administration.

Employees at Tomlinsons Dairies, Wrexham were abruptly made redundant at a meeting on Monday, October 14 after it emerged the firm was refusing to process milk. One delivery driver said afterwards that there was “shock” in the room but “a lot of us knew what was coming”.

The dairy is the nearest to Denbighshire and used by many farmers in North Wales. Its closure follows that of the Llandyrnog creamery last year, at the loss of 97 jobs after Arla Foods decided to carry out “efficiency savings”.

Tomlinsons Dairies said it is “devastated” by the administration, citing cash flow pressures and deteriorating trading results amid increased energy costs and low commodity cream prices.

“Key customers, the company and its stakeholders had been in urgent communication over a package of measures to further support the business over recent weeks given the deterioration in Tomlinsons’ financial position,” a Tomlinsons Dairies spokesperson said.

“Strenuous efforts have been made to try and find a solution but on Friday evening the position proved untenable.

“Consequently the directors had no alternative but to make urgent plans to both cease milk processing and file for administration.”

Tomlinsons said the decision was time critical to stop the delivery of milk that could not be paid for, once the prospects of a rescue were known.

PwC was appointed as its administrator on Tuesday. 

Llyr Gruffydd, Ruthin-based AM for North Wales, said the closure is “worrying news” for “dozens of farmers across the region who supply the company”.

 “The workforce and the producers must be the immediate priority," he said.

NFU Cymru milk board chairman Gareth Richards said the union is "investigating further to understand the potential implications of the administration for our members".

“We believe there are around 70 producers affected, many of whom are located in Wales," the spokesperson said.

"We want to clarify the position for our members on supplying their milk elsewhere, and we want to know whether they will be paid for milk already supplied to Tomlinsons."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said the closure is “disappointing” after 18 months of effort to stabilise the Flintshire business, which included support via trade negotiations and the sale of its onsite packing company.

“We have now established a task force to work directly with the staff affected by the closure and are in discussions with farming unions and other stakeholders to consider what support is required at this difficult time,” the spokesperson said.

Andrew Davies, Welsh Government shadow minister for environment, food and rural affairs, said the closure will “understandably be causing great anxiety and concern amongst the farming community, Tomlinson employees and their families”.

“Its dramatic and sudden closure poses some serious questions for Ministers,” Mr Davies said.

“It’s vital all avenues are explored to get the site up and running again to ensure people get their ‘daily pint’ as this demand is there and should be filled by quality Welsh milk.”

Tomlinsons Dairies was established 36 years ago and became one of the UK’s largest dairy companies, processing and packaging Welsh, British and organic milk and dairy products to multiple sectors across the market.

Over the past three years it doubled the size of its Minera dairy, added a distribution hub at Ruabon, and became a dairy with a capacity of 200 million litres.