Coldwater switches frozen fish production to France – Fishupdate.com

Coldwater switches frozen fish production to France Published:  21 August, 2006

THE Icelandic Group is switching all of its frozen fish productions at the Grimsby Coldwater Seafoods factory to France and Germany, it has been revealed.

The large Humber Bank plant, which employs several hundred people, will instead concentrate on the manufacture of chilled ready meals. The company has declined to say if the move will have any impact on local jobs but it is bound to be another blow for a town which prides itself as Europe’s biggest frozen food producer. Birds Eye closed their Grimsby factory 18 months ago with the loss of 600 jobs and Heinz shut its frozen pizza plant two years earlier when 400 jobs went.

However, chilled seafood sales, along with chilled food generally, are soaring throughout the UK so the switch may prove to be a long term benefit with Grimsby able to rebrand itself the chilled capital of Europe!

The Coldwater factory has been experiencing problems for several months and Icelandic has admitted that they have taken longer than expected to solve.

Two months ago Icelandic purchased the French owned Delpierre Freezing Group for around £12million. The company owns a large frozen seafood factory in the northern Channel town of Wimille and it is to that site that most of the Coldwater frozen production will be moved. A small sector will be transferred to Pickenpack in Germany.

The news comes as the Icelandic Group announced its six monthly results to the end of June which show that global sales were up 29 per cent to 745million euros (around £514million). The second quarter sales (from April to June) amounted to 362.9million euros (£250million).

Seafood returns seem to be thin on the ground at the moment because the second half group profit was just 2.3million euros (£1.6million). The figure for the second quarter was 1.3million euros (£897,000).

Total group performance was also affected by the increasing price of fish and the June heatwave in the UK, Europe and the United States which hit sales of fish.

Icelandic’s chief executive officer Bjorgolfur Johannson, said: “Performance in the second quarter fell short of management targets. The main reasons were the high cost of raw materials which cut into our gross profit and the Coldwater restructuring which has taken longer than expected.”

In contrast Iceland’s other Grimsby operation, Seachill was a real jewel in the crown, showing a 32 per cent increase in sales over the same period in 2005, buoyed in part by the ‘Jamie Oliver effect’ on healthy food sales. The factory is to undergo further expansion with a focus on smoked fish.

Icelandic’s total UK sales, mainly Grimsby based, in the second quarter were 11.7million euros (around £81million). The company once again stressed increasing fish costs but have declined to reveal the precise scale of how it has affected performance. But they admitted that the hot summer, which came in the end of the period, badly hit sales of breaded and battered fish products throughout Europe and the United States.

Sales in the US, Asia, France and Spain were up by varying amounts. Mr Johannson said the company was working to turn around “unacceptable results” and that should help improve profits in the second part of 2006.

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