CUMBRIAN Seafoods may change its ownership structure –

CUMBRIAN Seafoods may change its ownership structure Published:  19 October, 2011

CUMBRIAN Seafoods, one of Britain’s largest fish and seafood suppliers, may change its ownership structure over the next few months, it was disclosed today.

The company said in a statement: “Further to the recent press speculation we have received several approaches from parties wanting to either invest into, or buy this business. We have engaged KPMG Corporate Finance to explore these and a number of other options on our behalf. We are pleased to report that their engagement has seen significant additional interest, which they are now assessing. “Although the business suffered earlier this summer from the Pangasius issue and unprecedented levels of raw material inflation, most of the corrective actions are now in place. We have a sound business model with Blue Chip customers, good employees and an outstanding supply base.”

Cumbrian was listed by the Sunday Times at the weekend as one of Britain’s top 250 privately-owned companies. In its last published figures it recorded an annual profit of £3.1-milliion. The company was founded by Peter Vassallo in Cumbria, but four years ago it built a modern seafood processing factory at Seaham in County Durham where it employs between 500 and 600 people. However, it still has smoked fish interests near Whitehaven on the Cumbrian  Coast.  It is now the largest independent seafood supplier to major supermarket chains like Tesco and Morrisons. Seven out of ten of all prawn cocktails sold in UK supermarkets are packed by Cumbrian. It is now a £200-million a year business.

There is bound to be speculation as to the identity of the other seafood firms showing interest. But The Findus group, which owns Grimsby-based Young’s will be one of the names widely touted. Findus has already indicated it is preparing a £1-billion chest to fund further acquisitions and the sort of work that Cumbrian carries out would fit well into the Young’s portfolio. The announcement  is also likely to attract overseas interest, possibly from companies in leading seafood producing countries like Iceland, Norway or Canada. Either way, the UK seafood industry is undergoing significant structural changes at the moment following a report in the Financial Times that the Findus Group, which owns Young’s, could be split.

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