Ireland’s top scampi processor makes a key acquisition –

Ireland’s top scampi processor makes a key acquisition Published:  07 December, 2011

Ireland’s top scampi processor W Middleton & Son (NI) Ltd, trading as Middleton Seafoods, has acquired 100% of the share capital of Rockall Seafoods Ltd.

The two breaded scampi processors are located within sight of each other in Kilkeel Harbour, the main fishing port on the County Down coast in Northern Ireland, home to one of the largest fishing fleets in Ireland.

Jack Cowden of Middleton Seafoods said:“The coming together of the two businesses will improve the competitiveness of Ireland’s scampi processing industry at a time of acute pressure brought about by very high raw material costs and increasing price sensitivity by consumers as a result of the current economic slowdown”

Middleton Seafoods is a subsidiary of Whitby Seafoods Ltd, the UK’s leading scampi processor. Whitby Seafoods, located in the popular fishing town of Whitby, North Yorkshire, has  built a strong brand and loyal following for Whitby Scampi with both caterers and retail consumers.

Whitby Seafoods has invested £4.5million in Kilkeel scampi processing since 2007 without any assistance from public funds. This is alongside continuing a multi million pound investment programme in their 55,000 square feet, state of the art scampi factory, which is based on a 9 acre site, in Whitby, where they are the largest local employer. Whitby Seafoods intend to continue investing in both Whitby and Northern Ireland in the coming years as Whitby Seafoods Managing Director Graham Whittle explains:

“The reason for our increasing investment in Kilkeel is to employ the town’s   considerable skills in processing scampi developed over several decades. It is also a great location to procure the valuable and sustainable harvest of scampi by the Northern Irish and Southern Irish fishing fleets”

The plan for future investment is intended to lead to improvements in efficiency and product quality for both businesses.

There are no plans for redundancies. However in the current economic climate and with the restructuring that is to take place, some loss of jobs may be inevitable.

Wesley Newell, Managing Director and shareholder in Rockall Seafoods will remain in the business, joining Jack Cowden in running the new joint Kilkeel enterprise under the Middleton banner, operating as Middleton Seafoods.

Wesley Newell said:“This transaction is a good thing for the industry, the difficulties scampi processors have faced is evident by this year’s closure of Parkgate in Portovogie, Solway Seafoods in Bladnoch, South Scotland and by the financial rescue packages needed by other scampi producers. This acquisition with strengthen both businesses and protect Kilkeel’s scampi processing industry.”

Breaded scampi sales in the UK are estimated at 12,000 tonnes a year which is equal to a staggering 80 million portions eaten both in and outside the home. Despite a decline in landings in 2011 consumers retain a healthy appetite for the great British favourite not least because of increasing awareness of its health benefits.

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