Singletons collapse deemed ‘a real loss to British cheese’
The fallout from Singletons & Co’s collapse into administration continued last month as Butlers acquired the company’s sheep’s cheese brand Parlick, while artisan cheesemakers lost an important export partner.
Based in Longridge, Lancashire, Singletons & Co was founded in 1934 and was known for brands including Grandma Singletons, Beacon Fell Traditional Lancashire PDO and Forest of Bowland Cheddar. The company also exported cheese to more than 30 countries.
It went into administration on 23rd August due to the “effects of Covid-19, the rising costs of milk and other additional overheads”, according to administrator Kroll.
Almost 70 staff were made redundant, with 12 kept on to wind down the business, but the collapse has also had repercussions for the wider industry. Singletons was the country’s largest producer of sheep’s cheese, buying milk from farm group Sheep Milk UK to make Parlick, stocked in Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Booths. Its demise could have been a hammer blow for farmers, but the brand was acquired by Lancashire-based Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses last month.
“As a company we are focused on improving the diversity of British cheese and ensuring the renaissance of British cheese continues,” said Butlers director Matthew Hall. “Bringing Parlick to Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses puts sheep’s milk cheese back into our range and supports a key part of the local supply chain.” He added that the company would be looking to develop new soft and blue sheep’s milk cheeses in the future.
Singletons was also a major exporter to the US, India and Europe, distributing its own products and cheeses from artisan producers including Quicke’s, Charles Martell, White Lake, Shepherd’s Purse and Barber’s. The company had also recently signed a deal with the Cahill family of Ireland to manufacture flavoured cheeses under the Cahill’s brand.
“What’s happened to Singletons is incredibly sad and it’s a real loss to British cheese as a whole,” said Mary Quicke, owner of Quicke’s, whose cheddar was exported to Norway, Belgium and Germany by Singletons. “It was such a well-established company, doing good things for British cheese in terms of exports and supporting local dairy farms.”
Singletons made losses of £573,000 in 2020-21 and £1.18m in 2019-20, according to its most recent annual report.