Seabay: administrators move in – Fishupdate.com

Seabay: administrators move in Published:  30 January, 2007

Iain Botham urged people to eat more fish when he opened the factory

ONE of Grimsby’s long established fish processors is to close immediately with the loss of more than 100 jobs, it was confirmed today.

Seabay Quickfish has been placed into administration in the hope that a buyer can be found for its extensive facilities. The news plunges the Humber seafood business into even deeper gloom. The administrators said there would be around 100 redundancies.

Seabay Quickfish has a large factory on the North Wall of the fish stocks supplying battered and breaded fillets along with other seafood products, mainly to France and the rest of Europe.

Rumours about the company viability began to grow last week and Seabay workers were frantically contacting other fish processors on the docks asking if they had any vacancies because they feared for their jobs. Rob Orr, managing director at the Seabay site, refused to comment on the speculation, but said a statement would be issued over the weekend. However, no statement was forthcoming.

Although not members of the Grimsby FMA, many local fish merchants deal with Seabay and attempts by official fish dock organisations to contact the company have so far met with a blank.

Earlier today an un-named spokeswoman said the administrators had entered the factory, most of the staff had now been sent home and Mr Orr was not at his desk today. Other members of the senior management are thought to be on site, fuelling hopes that the business can be saved or a new buyer found. Seabay has a strong customer base and an efficient and modern production unit.

Seabay has been in Grimsby for almost 30 years, but the North Wall factory and cold store was totally rebuilt and modernised about 14 years ago when it was officially opened by England cricketing legend Ian Botham. At the time Botham urged the public and sports people to eat more fish, adding that it was his favourite food.

Seabay is listed on the website as being part of the larger Norway Sjovik Group which operates an international fishing fleet and enterprise on the country’s West Coast. Geographically, it puts the company at the heart of Norway’s main fishing region. Just over a year ago it merged with Quickfish.

The Grimsby operation produces breaded and battered fish portion along with other seafood products. It has a comprehensive selection of fish and shellfish including IQF plain fillets, scampi and prawn products.

The company also belongs to the Food For Britain Organisation because of its strong export trade. However, it has had a chequered history over health and safety issues. Three years ago it was fined £25,000 by the courts after a worker lost his hand in an unguarded deboning machine and a few months earlier another worker lost the tip of his finger in a similar incident and the company faced a £2,500 fine. There have also been other less serious safety breaches raised by the Health and Safety Executive.

Seabay is the latest blow in a series of jobs cutbacks within the Humber Seafood industry recently. First, there was the closure of the Birds Eye factory in Hull where 650 people are employed. And last week Young’s Bluecrest announced it was closing its factory in Gillet Street, Hull with the loss of some 200 jobs. The operation will be moved to Grimsby, creating 125 jobs on the South Bank.

Because of rising fish prices and soaring energy costs, seafood companies are coming under increasing pressure to reduce overheads and increase efficiency – and labour cutbacks are the first target. But this is the first firm this year to call in the administrators.

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