THE potential closure of Rowan Glen’s yoghurt factory in Wigtownshire is “very concerning”, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The award-winning dairy producer, located near Newton Stewart, faces closure and the loss of 49 jobs after owners Dale Farm Ltd launched a consultation on its future. The firm is also considering shutting its Cumbria factory.

Belfast-based Dale Farm said in a statement: “As part of its ongoing strategic development, dairy co-operative Dale Farm is considering restructuring part of its Great Britain business, specifically its Kendal, Cumbria and Rowan Glen, sites. This restructure could result in a proposal to cease operations at these two facilities.”

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The business added: “These two manufacturing sites compete in a market characterised by excess capacity and declining demand for their primary products. Aside from the market challenges, the sites are experiencing significant inflation and require major investment in order to remain viable.

“Dale Farm will work closely with all employees and representatives, providing ongoing support throughout this process.”

Finlay Carson, Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, raised the possible closure of the site with the First Minister during FMQs on Thursday.

“This would be a hugely significant loss of jobs in a rural area and could result in the loss of a well-known and respected brand located in the heart of Scotland’s milk field,” the MSP told the Chamber.

He said he acknowledged that businesses across Scotland are under “extraordinary pressure” but asked if Sturgeon would be prepared to explore “extraordinary solutions” to prevent the factory shutting down and save the jobs.

The SNP leader said she would provide that assurance as she would for any business in difficulty.

“I was certainly very concerned to hear that Dale Farm Group is holding a consultation over the proposed closure of the Rowan Glen dairy factory in Newton Stewart and I know this will be a very difficult time for the company’s staff and their families,” the First Minister told MSPs.

“The people affected by this development are of course everybody’s immediate priority and the Government will do everything in our power to help those affected, including through our PACE initiative.”

She said that South of Scotland Enterprise, and the Business Minister, have already been in talks with the firm this week, and encouraged Dale Farm to explore “all available options to secure the site’s future”.

Meanwhile, Dumfries and Galloway Council has vowed to explore what it can do to prevent a closure.

“We will focus our best efforts to ensure staff are supported as much as possible,” said council co-leader Linda Dorward. “However, we are still committed to working through our partners to consult with Dale Farm Ltd to see if there is anything that can be done to keep the plants open.”