FIVE Star Fish, a major supplier of seafood products to Marks & Spencer, looks poised to close its Grimsby factory and lay off almost 400 members of staff.
The company said the operating was ‘heavily loss making’ and the decision had been taken because of the site’s financial position.
The statement said: ‘Five Star Fish has undertaken a full strategic review of its business and has concluded its operation at Grimsby is not sustainable in its current form for the long-term.
‘We are having ongoing discussions with our customers and with other local manufacturers to ensure we explore the full range of options available to us.’
‘Regrettably, we have now reached a stage where we have to enter into a period of consultation with colleagues and customers about the future of the site and what it might mean for them.
‘It is important to emphasise that no final decisions have yet been made as the consultation process has only just begun.’
Five Star is part of the 2Sisters Food Group, which is mainly involved in supplying poultry and poultry products. But it dipped its toe into the seafood business a few years ago and it also owns the Harry Ramsden Fish & Chip restaurant chain.
Two years ago it won a big M&S coated fish contract from rival Grimsby firm Icelandic Seachill. The deal raised a few eyebrows at the time because Seachill had always been seen as a dependable supplier to the retailer.
The news yesterday came as a shock to the town, where seafood processing is the largest sector employer.
George Krawiec, chairman of Seafood Grimsby and Humber, told Fish Update: ‘This is very sad news, but hopefully the M&S contract will be taken up locally by another local company, thus saving some of the jobs.
‘Don’t forget that the seafood sector employs well over 5,000 people in the Grimsby area and remains strong and resolute.
‘However, the move does show the competitive nature of the industry so it remains important that it gets its future right.’
Grimsby MP Melanie Onn said the news was a blow to the town, but she hoped the M&S contract could remain in Grimsby.
Young’s Seafood, which has its HQ in Grimsby, is being tipped as one of the companies who might take over the work.
Five Star Fish was started more than 30 years ago by local businessman John Fenty (now lead director at Grimsby Town Football Club), who built it into a dynamic business serving the food service sector.
He sold the company in 2005 and since then it has had at least a couple of owners before being bought by 2Sisters in 2014.