More Hull jobs go as Young's delivers fresh blow –

More Hull jobs go as Young’s delivers fresh blow Published:  25 January, 2007

HULL’S fast shrinking seafood industry took another serious hit last night when Young’s Bluecrest announced it was closing a factory with the loss of just over 200 jobs.

The company processing plant in Gillett Street in West Hull is to go following a review of manufacturing operations throughout the group.

The news comes just two weeks after Birds Eye announced the closure of its main fish plant in the city, with the loss of more than 500 jobs. The site is thought to be outdated compared to more modern plants elsewhere and therefore expensive to update.

Young’s chief executive Wynne Griffiths said: “Unfortunately, neither the production facilities or staff amenities at Gillett Street are up to the standard of the rest of our operations and the cost of correcting these issues is prohibitive.”

Production is being moved to the firm’s headquarters in Grimsby. Young’s said Hull staff would be offered the chance to take 125 jobs being created there. However, the cost of travel between the two centres plus the £5.40 return Humber Bridge tolls for each journey is not likely to prove attractive unless the company offers to bus people across.

One worker, Mark Pearson, who has worked at the factory for three years, said: “I’m absolutely devastated, like everybody else here. You have couples, partners, people who have been here 20 years, so it’s like a whole family out of work.”

Last year Young’s closed its factory in Liverpool Street, Hull, and transferred production of smoked fish to Fraserburgh in Scotland. The company acquired the two factories in Hull when it bought Marr Foods in 2003.

Two months ago, Young’s ran into flak in Scotland over its decision to transfer part of its scampi operations to Thailand. The move, which has been criticised by union leaders and environmentalists, will result in the loss of around 120 jobs at Young’s Seafood’s processing plant in Annan, Dumfries. As part of its long term plan to grow the Scottish langoustine market, Young’s Seafood announced its intention to reintroduce hand peeling (de–shelling) for the breaded scampi which it manufactures at Annan in Dumfries.

The rising cost of fish and other inflationary pressures such as fuel costs are placing the Humber’s seafood processors under increasing pressure to reduce overheads. Cod and salmon prices have shot up by more than 30% in the past 12 months, but prices in the shops have risen by less than five per cent. And there is still discounting in the big store chains. Other Humber processors could announce cutbacks in the coming weeks.

The news is certainly a major body blow for Hull, especially after Birds Eye’s decision to withdraw from the city by the autumn. Last week, a number of other seafood firms said they would consider offering some of the redundant Birds Eye workers jobs in their factories. Tryton Food, which said the Birds Eye closure had not come as a complete surprise, said it was not short of people, but it would consider recruiting from among those who would lose their jobs later this year.

And Simpson’s Seafood, the west Hull firm that processes and packages chilled and frozen food and employs up to 150 people, said it was not in a recruiting situation at the moment. It was a lean producer. “However, if people want to talk to us about jobs there may be some scope for that,” a spokesman said last week.

More than 17,000 people in the Humber Region are employed in the food industry, mainly fish, but also in other sectors.

Hull West MP Alan Johnson, who is also Education Secretary, said the news was another blow for his constituents. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.