Seabay factory sold Published: 08 May, 2007
THE Seabay Quickfish factory at Grimsby, which closed down in January with the loss of almost 100 jobs, has been sold, it was announced today.
But something of a mystery surrounds the identity of the new owner or what it intends to do with the site on the North wall of Grimsby Fish Docks.
The business recovery firm Jackson Joliffe Cork, which said it has received a large number of inquiries from potential buyers and was in meaningful talks with some of them, announced this morning that it completed the sale of the business and its assets on May 2.
The purchaser is a company called Seven Seas Foods which is expected to announce its intentions for the plant once its business plans are finalised. A skeleton staff of eight people were kept on after the shutdown and they will remain and it is expected that further people will be recruited. Some of the workers who lost their jobs four months ago had been there almost since the factory first opened and whole families – mother, father and children – worked there.
A lot of interest came from Norway and among the companies mentioned was salmon specialist Eagle or Sea Eagle and it is possible that the name Seven Seas could be the Anglicised title given to the new Grimsby arm of the business. There was speculation on Grimsby docks this morning that the buyers may be Icelandic.
However, there is a Far East company called Seven Seas Foods (P) Ltd. It is a speciality merchandising business for all types of seafood products, especially prawns and other shellfish. It is known that seafood companies from the Asian continent, including China, have been making inquiries on the Humber looking to buy suitable fish businesses, but the new owners are thought more likely to be Norwegian, Icelandic or Russian.
It is expected that the full identity will become clear when the new company moves in. Jackson Joliffe Corke said it was pleased at the outcome but would give no details on the nationality of the buyer. It will certainly be dfelighted that it was sold so quickly.
While there will almost certainly be new employment opportunities, it is unlikely that any new occupier will offer jobs to all 100 people that have been laid off.
Seabay was part of the larger Norwegian Sjovic group which has been silent since the plant closed on January 29 after going into administration.
Seabay, which included French and European supermarkets among its customers, has been in Grimsby for almost 30 years. 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.
Just over a year ago it merged with Quickfish, but soon after the merger the new firm found difficulty in sourcing fish at an economically viable price. Fish prices have been rising consistently for the past 18 months. It was also revealed that the firm had been losing a lot of cash and closed with heavy debts. It is thought the problems were special to the business rather than anything to do with the seafood industry in general.
This sale will certainly help to revive morale on the Humber after a difficult start to the year. First, there was the closure of the Birds Eye factory in Hull where 650 people are employed. And shortly afterwards Young’s Bluecrest announced it was closing its factory in Hull with the loss of some 200 jobs. The operation is being moved to Grimsby, creating 125 jobs on the South Bank and it is believed a number of Hull people are moving across the Humber to take those new posts.
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