Early interest in Five Star Fish03 March, 2010 –
THE administrators handling the affairs of the Five Star Fish company are thought to have received a number of preliminary inquiries about buying the business, it was disclosed last night. But so far there have been no firm offers.
A team from Deloittes are today at the Grimsby factory, which employs 332 people and is one of the biggest providers of fish and seafood products to the foodservice industry. The Deloitte team is talking to staff members in a bid to re-assure them about the future, stressing that the company is a profitable business with a solid customer base. Its profits last year are thought to have been around £4-million.
Matt Smith, from Deloitte, said: “Our initial focus is on working with employees, customers and suppliers to stabilise the trading activities of the company. We are hopeful that a successful sale of the business as a going concern can be achieved in a relatively short timeframe.”
Five Star is part of the wider British Seafood Group which collapsed last week amid reports of a £150 million black hole in its finances. The private equity company 3i has lost most of its original £80 million investment and the crisis is having a knock effect right through the fish trade and beyond.
Steve Norton, chief executive of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association, said the collapse was bad news for the industry and for Grimsby, but he believed that Five Star was an excellent business which he thought would have no trouble in finding a buyer. He also pointed out that the Grimsby fish industry was about to embark on a multi-million investment programme this year through the modernisation of the fish market and the construction of a seafood processing village.
Meanwhile, the interest in Five Star may come from private equity, existing fish processing companies other food service suppliers looking to expand their business or, as more likely, buy up a strong competitor.