A MAJOR employer in the Yorkshire Dales is able to invest in new equipment to increase production following a £17.9m deal with HSBC UK.

The Wensleydale Creamery, in Hawes, plans to introduce a new cheese smoking plant, as well as modernising its cheese-making facilities with new vats; and cheese-making and curd-handling equipment, helping improve efficiency and improve the working environment for its cheese-makers.

A new water recycling and increased milk storage capacity are also being planned.

The business plans to increase production to significantly grow sales, which will help to secure local employment opportunities and ensure a sustainable future for the local farms supplying the creamery too.

The creamery has also secured an EU productivity grant of approximately £800,000.

In addition, almost £1m of HSBC UK’s funding will go towards a cheese blending and waxing facility, allowing the business to blend cheese more efficiently with a state-of-the-art production line.

By-products from the cheese-making process at the creamery are being taken to Iona Capital’s bio-gas plant in Leeming, North Yorkshire where it is converted into electricity to produce around 10,000 MWh of thermal power, which is enough energy to heat approximately 800 homes.

The Wensleydale Creamery has also launched a new cheese brand, The Yorkshire Creamery, which currently features three cheeses.

First to launch is a range of everyday cheeses made with fresh Yorkshire milk from local farms including Extra Mature Yorkshire Cheddar, Yorkshire Red, and Double Yorkshire.

David Hartley, managing director, Wensleydale Cheese, said: “The support from HSBC UK will allow us to increase and improve production across the Creamery. By investing in new, modern equipment, we can improve our efficiency as well as improve process control with technical excellence. It puts us in a strong position to grow the business and meet customer demand for our brand and products. HSBC UK provided sound guidance and showed enthusiasm for our growth plans.”

Gordon Forster, area director, HSBC UK said: “HSBC UK is a huge supporter of rural British business and Wensleydale Creamery is a much-loved British food brand, crucial to the economic well-being of the deeply rural area in which it is situated, and we’re delighted to help with growth plans. We wish them every success."