Mara Seaweed goes into administration

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A new owner is urgently being sought for Mara Seaweed, an award-winning Scottish seaweed harvesting and food products business.

Mara, which is headquartered in Glenrothes, Fife, has been placed into the hands of administrators Callum Carmichael and Chad Griffin, partners with FRP Advisory.

Founded in 2011 as Celtic Sea Spice Company, the business rebranded as Mara Seaweed in 2013 and pioneered the harvesting, processing and manufacture of a wide range of seaweed-based seasonings.

Mara Seaweed operated from a purpose-built factory in Nasmyth Road, Glenrothes and sold to wholesale, trade, retail and direct to consumers.  The company won a number of “Great Taste” and food industry awards, and its products regularly featured on TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off.

Mara’s co-founders Fiona Houston and Xa Milne met in 2003 and developed a shared interested in foraging for seaweed and developing new recipes for it. They came to the conclusion that consumers would find seaweed – and its many health benefits – more appealing if it was sold in the form of seasoning rather than as a “sea vegetable”. The Celtic Sea Spice Company, founded in 2011, gave rise to the Mara Seaweed brand, launched in 2013 with Fiona Houston as “SeaEO”.

The company’s products have won a series of awards, including the Great Taste Awards on numerous occasions and the Scotland Food and Drink Awards.

Fiona Houston and Xa Milne, Mara Seaweed

The administration was triggered by severe working capital issues following the withdrawal of funding for a committed expansion programme, in turn leading to unsustainable cash flow problems with administration being the only option.

FRP will now market the brand and assets of the business for sale and are urging interested parties to make contact as soon as possible.

The administrators said: “Five staff are being retained for a short period to assist with the sale of stock, but unfortunately seven staff have been made redundant with immediate effect.”

The joint administrators said they will provide every support to the employees, including assistance with claims to the Redundancy Payments Office for any wages or entitlements due.

Callum Carmichael, partner with FRP Advisory commented: “Mara Seaweed had developed a very high profile and outstanding reputation within the food industry for its innovative approach to harvesting and for the quality of its products.  The administration provides an opportunity for a business operating in the food seasonings sector, or an entrepreneur keen to enter the rapidly growing seaweed seasonings business.  We would ask interested parties to contact the Edinburgh office of FRP Advisory.”

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