Asda boosts fish processors Published: 22 February, 2007
ASDA has become the second large food supermarket chain this week to provide a boost for the fish processing industry by announcing a huge expansion programme.
The Leeds based company – part of the US Wal-Mart group – is to open 18 new stores through the UK, creating thousands of new jobs. It will also carry out sizeable extensions to and improvement to 15 other stores.
Asda is a major buyer of fresh fish and the expansion is almost certain to create extra demand from its seafood suppliers, mainly based on the Humber and in Scotland. On Monday the Waitrose group, which is mainly supplied by Sealord in the UK, also announced a big roll out of new stores over the next two years. The hope is that, long term, this will create new jobs in fish processing.
ASDA has been causing something of a stir in the seafood world recently over its controversial decision to ban the sale of monkfish tails from its stores because they say it is an endangered species. However, the move has angered fishermen from Land’s End to John ‘O Groats who claim that monkfish around the UK coastline are not endangered.
Then it followed that up with a new initiative to save the marine turtle, with help from seafood processors Young’s of Grimsby by replacing longline fishing hooks,which snag the creatures, with more friendly circular hooks on a fleet of boats fishing off Sri Lanka.
If the trial is successful, ASDA will work with its supplier, Youngs Seafood, to investigate ways of making even more hooks available to other boats in the Sri Lankan fleet.
News of the expansion was announced by ASDA President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Bond after the release of parent company Wal-Mart’s full year financial results. Profits at supermarket chain Asda topped £572-million last year as an extra 1m shoppers were lured by lower prices and improved service. Andy Bond, chief executive of Asda, described 2006 as a turnaround year. “We still have more to do but we are on the way to where we want to be. By the end of the year we were motoring,” he said.
Mr Bond refused to comment on whether he had looked at the possibility of bidding for rival J Sainsbury, which is at the centre of bid speculation. However he said: “I think about my customers, not Sainsbury’s.”
Said ASDA Chief Financial Officer Judith Mckenna: “This is a major investment which will enable ASDA to provide even better service and great value products including food to more people across the UK than ever before.”
Over 4,000 new jobs will be created by the new store build programme alone, including over 600 in Scotland with new development at Wishaw, Girvan and Androssan.
An additional 2000 new jobs will be created through ASDA’s new ‘Seasonal Plus Scheme’ providing customers and colleagues with extra help during peak trading periods.
On the seafood side, Asda recently announced that all its fresh fish counters at Asda have been officially certified under the Marine Stewardship Councils traceability programme to sell products from well-managed and sustainable fisheries, following an independent audit. Seafood products bearing the distinctive blue MSC label would soon start appearing on its fish counters.
One of the new supermarkets will be Asda’s first “energy-efficient” store. The retail giant said this would be 20% more energy efficient than its other branches, and would be built from bricks and timber recycled from a mill formerly located on the development site.
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