GRAHAM'S The Family Dairy has targeted building sales south of the Border after renewing its licence to produce and distribute Gold Top, the brand based on milk from Jersey and Guernsey cows.

Bridge of Allan-based Graham's has extended its agreement with Quality Milk Producers (QMP), the co-operative for Jersey and Guernsey cow farmers in Scotland, England and Wales, by 25 years.

The deal will see the product rebranded Graham's The Family Dairy Gold Top in a move which unifies the Gold Top stamp with the Scottish dairy firm's Gold Jersey brand.

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The new identity, created by Edinburgh agency threebrand, is designed to ensure the product remains easy to spot for existing consumers, while building the Graham's name in England.

Two variations of the milk, which is higher in protein and calcium and sells at a higher price than conventional and organic mil, will be marketed - Gold Top with the cream on top, and Gold Smooth with the cream mixed throughout. Both will appear on shelves in one-litre bottles.

The range, which will be launched at this week's Royal Highland Show in Ingliston, will also include 250g packs of butter and 284ml pots of double cream.

Managing director Robert Graham said: "The Jersey Gold Top products for us are a really key part of our business, from a sales point of view but also because of differentiating our business.

"They are also products we sell [in] pretty much all of the retailers throughout the UK, across milk cream and butter, so it's important in that aspect - taking our sales outside Scotland."

Mr Graham described the introduction of the Graham's name to the Gold Top brand move as "fundamental" to its desire to develop sales in England and boost recognition of its brand.

Graham's signalled its ambition to grow its presence in that market when it announced a £20 million funding package with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and its asset finance arm, Lombard, in May.

The 75-year-old company currently generates 15 per cent of its revenue down south.

Mr Graham said the deal with RBS is crucial as it looks to maintain the "fierce" growth it has experienced in the past two decades.

Accounts for the year to the end of March have still to be audited, but the company has previously stated that turnover came in at £82 million for the period, whicb is up from £67.5 million the year before.

Mr Graham said: "It's important because it gives us a funding package that we can take forward to grow our business, whether it's increased cap ex, whether it's increased marketing spend or whether it's acquisitions. It gives us that extra war chest.

"For a business like ours that's been growing at roughly 20 per cent a year for 20 years, which is pretty fierce growth, you have to have a package that's right. Some of the traditional [banking] structures wouldn't be able to support a growing business like that."

Mr Graham said the company, which will return to TV screens to advertise the Graham's family of brands in August, will support the new Gold Top brand with in-store marketing activity. Asked whether its higher fat content was at odds with calls for the adoption of healthier diets, he said Jersey milk has seen "double digit" percentage growth in recent years as "people look for indulgence".

Noting that "at least one knows what it is" when it comes to milk from cows, he said: "It's still a low-fat product compared with other things. I suppose it mirrors what we see on margarine sales, which are in heavy decline, versus increased [sales of] butter and buttered spreads. People obviously trust the product they are buying in butter."