Investment programme set for Western Isles salmon farm – Fishupdate.com

Investment programme set for Western Isles salmon farm Published:  16 May, 2007

A NEW salmon farming company in the Western Isles has revealed that it is planning an investment programme of millions of pounds over the next few years, to give its products a worldwide profile.

The former operation of Fjord Seafood Scotland, based in Stornoway has been hived off by salmon farming giant Marine Harvest as a stand-alone company, answerable directly to Marine Harvest headquarters in Norway.

The company has been renamed as Outer Hebrides Seafood and insiders say that there is the possibility of a management buyout further down the line if the company can make a success of its partial independence.

The new company has told the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation that it has investment plans to develop its processing and farming operations in the Islands, to enable it to expand markets for both fresh salmon fillets, and processed and smoked salmon products ready for the supermarket shelves when they leave the factory on the outskirts of Stornoway.

The company is already involved in developing the ‘Outer Hebrides’ brand for its products in conjunction with a wider marketing campaign being undertaken by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the local enterprise company HIE Innse Gall.

Alan Anderson, managing director of the new company, said: “For the last 12 years, customers have stuck with us because we are a large niche supplier of quality salmon products. We aim to build on this deserved reputation by developing investment plans to expand processing and farming operations.

“We will become a fully-integrated business controlling production from salmon eggs through to the product on the retail shelves. That means we can dispatch ‘super-fresh’ salmon products to niche customers in the UK and Europe on the same day the salmon is harvested, gutted and filleted.”

Marine Harvest has hived off both Pan Fish Scotland and Fjord Seafood Scotland, as part of its merger with the parent companies of both operations. Pan Fish Scotland has interested other buyers, but so far no sale has been announced and there is a possibility that it too could be operated as a stand-alone company which could be offered for management buy-out in future.

Outer Hebrides Seafood is in discussions with local supermarkets, the Co-op and Somerfield, to stock their products. Four freshwater sites are to be transferred from Marine Harvest to Outer Hebrides Seafood, as well as sea cage sites in West Loch Roag, increasing the production capacity of the new company, and making it the largest producer and processor of salmon in the Western Isles. Further investment is to be put into developing all the company’s sites and the company will employ 190 people once all the site transfers have been completed. As the company grows, more jobs are expected to be created if its promotion of its own value-added products is successful.

Market analysts say that smoked salmon portion sales have increased by 38.7% from 42.8m in 2004 to 59.4m in 2006. The EU market demand, the main export market for Outer Hebrides Seafood’s products is projected to grow 7% annually over the next three years.

Sid Patten, chief executive of the SSPO said: “It is great to see the new company emphasising the regional origin of its products. The commitment to the Western Isles both in terms of jobs and in product development is a further example of the returning confidence and investment into the sector.”

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