Business briefs: Dairy Crest | Danone | Optimus | McMillan Hotels

The owner of Cathedral City cheese has announced plans to overhaul its business structure in a move aimed at saving at least £5 million a year.

Dairy Crest, which also makes Country Life butter and Davidstow cheddar, said it will “consolidate its organisation into a single structure focused on consumer-driven growth with an integrated supply chain” from 1 April.

The firm also said Tom Atherton, its director of finance control, will become finance director on 23 May. He replaces Alastair Murray, who is leaving after almost ten years to pursue “other business interests”.

Yoghurt giant cuts 900 jobs in Europe

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Danone is to cut around 900 jobs to cope with the downturn in southern Europe that is hurting its core dairy business and aims to return to more profitable growth next year.

The world’s largest yoghurt maker is more exposed to the eurozone debt crisis than rivals Nestlé and Unilever and is under pressure from a US activist shareholder to improve its performance.

The job cuts, making up just over 3 per cent of the French company’s European workforce, will be made over two years and are part of a wider plan to save €200 million (£173m).

Optimus’ sales rise following expansion

ENGINEERING consultancy Optimus will today unveil a 15 per cent rise in turnover to £12.3 million after the Aberdeen-based firm opened an office in Inverness and grew its headcount by 20 to 90.

Profits dropped to £402,394 from £732,628 after the firm invested in its expansion plans.

Optimus director Ian Bell said: “Because we’re a small company, we can keep control of what our guys are doing and make sure projects don’t run over on cost or timescale.”

Optimus, which Bell founded in 1999, also has offices in Bulgaria and Thailand.

Fewer guests stay at McMillan Hotels

PROFITS at McMillan Hotels dropped by two thirds last year after the Ayr-based business spent cash refurbishing the main ballroom at the Peebles Hydro and was hit by a drop in customer numbers.

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Operating profits dropped by £176,000 to just £92,000 in the year to 31 May after turnover fell by £274,000 to £9.7 million. Pre-tax profits plunged to £29,000 from £1.3m after the previous year’s surplus had been swollen by the sale of spare land to the company’s pension scheme.

McMillan, which owns seven hotels, marked its 50th year in business during 2012.