WA’s oldest dairy, Brownes, has been bought by China.

Brownes’ managing director Tony Girgis told staff this morning that the 130-year-old dairy’s current owner, private equity player Archer Capital, had sold the business to a consortium led by Chinese dairy giant Shanghai Ground Food Tech.

Mr Girgis will remain at the company, which employs about 280 people and is WA’s biggest producer of milk and cream and second-biggest producer of yoghurt.

Brownes said the deal “will see Brownes remain an integral part of the WA dairy industry for generations to come, while creating access to emerging overseas markets and the potential for new product development”.

It is understood Shanghai Ground Food Tech, which is publicly listed in China, wants to restart cheese production at Brownes in a bid to meet demand in the Middle Kingdom.

“The consortium was highly attracted to the Brownes Dairy business and operations, its heritage and long history, and the possibilities Brownes offers to grow the Western Australian dairy industry given its strong geographic location on the door step to Asia,” Brownes said.

“The consortium expects Brownes to remain the premier supplier of quality dairy to WA customers and looks forward to continuing to service the domestic WA market.”

Mr Girgis said the deal guaranteed the future of WA’s oldest dairy.

“As it has done for 130 years, Brownes will remain an important part of the WA community and continue to contribute to the sustainability of the local dairy industry,” he said.

“This deal is a significant step in positioning Brownes for growth well into the future and we are excited at the opportunities offered to the business, our suppliers, employees and consumers.

“Not only will we seek to expand into new products such as cheese, but we will also be better positioned to take advantage of export opportunities and promote the WA dairy industry to a much wider audience.

“Day-to-day there will be no disruption to our employees and suppliers and we expect to be able to make more positive announcements in the near future. Furthermore, the decision to retain Brownes’ management provides ongoing structural certainty and is a vote of confidence in the business’s current position and its future direction.”

It is not known how much Shanghai Ground Food tech paid for the company.

Archer bought Brownes in 2011.