Lakeland Dairies CEO Michael Hanley to retire

Hanley to step down after distinguished career of 36 years with the co-op.

The chief executive of Lakeland Dairies Michael Hanley has announced his decision to retire in December 2022.

This follows a distinguished career of 36 years with the co-operative including the past 16 years as CEO where he has led the transformation of Lakeland Dairies to become the second largest dairy processing co-operative on the island of Ireland, with annual revenues of €1.3bn.

“The Lakeland business is in excellent shape to pursue further growth and development”

Hanley has served as Group CEO of Lakeland Dairies since 2006. In that time, he has led the transformation of the Lakeland business through a range of strategic development programmes and a series of mergers and acquisitions creating efficiency, major economies of scale and consolidation of the dairy industry across the northern half of the island.

An essential contribution to farm families

A highly experienced dairy industry figure, Group CEO Michael Hanley previously held various senior management positions with Lakeland Dairies since its formation in 1990, including deputy chief executive, general manager of Northern Ireland operations, general manager of dairy operations and manager of member relations.

“It’s an honour and privilege for me to lead this wonderful co-operative business, together with the Board of Directors,  my management team, and all of the great people in Lakeland Dairies, making an essential contribution to farm families and the dairy industry in the northern half of the island of Ireland. I look forward to driving further progress throughout the current year,” Hanley said.

“Personally it’s the right time for me to make this decision, following on from the record annual financial results reported for 2021. The Lakeland business is in excellent shape to pursue further growth and development, with the financial strength, the necessary resources and a highly experienced leadership team in place to continue the great progress that has been achieved collectively by all of us to date.

“I’ve decided to step down in December and I’ll look forward to much more time with family and friends in due course.  I say a heartfelt thank-you to everyone associated with Lakeland Dairies for the opportunities presented to me throughout my career and during which I am proud to have served as Chief Executive of such an excellent co-operative organisation.”

As Member Relations manager Hanley spearheaded the original 1990 campaign that saw the merger of Killeshandra and Lough Egish Co-operatives to form Lakeland Dairies.

The co-operative went on in successive years to acquire and integrate various businesses leading towards the largest ever dairy co-op merger in Ireland in 2019 – the combination of Lakeland Dairies and Lacpatrick Dairies.

Over the past decade, Lakeland has invested over €200m in new facilities and technologies, increasing milk supplies and processing capacity to a record level of over 2 billion litres.

Lakeland Dairies recently reported a 20% increase in revenues to a record level of €1.3bn for 2021. Operating profit of €28.2m increased by 8%.  EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) has also continued its upward trajectory, increasing by 5% to €55.4m.

From Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, Michael Hanley is originally from a farming background and is an Agricultural Science graduate of University College Dublin.  He is also Chairman of County Cavan Enterprise Fund.

“Michael Hanley’s leadership and contribution to Lakeland Dairies is exceptional,” said Niall Matthews, chair of Lakeland Dairies.

“His instinctive understanding of dairy farming and the dairy industry, together with his personal commitment to the wellbeing, and success of our sector, is outstanding and we pay tribute to him for this.

“We are sincerely grateful to Michael for the personally driven commitment and energy that he has brought to every aspect of his work throughout his career to date. Our Board and entire co-operative membership as one, wish him, his wife Valerie and his family, every happiness in the future. In the meantime, I look forward to his continuing contribution and support and we will also advance the process to identify a successor in the months ahead.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.