Grimsby rocked by salmon contract loss

GRIMSBY was today reeling at the possible loss of scores of seafood jobs after Young’s announced it had lost a substantial  contract to process salmon for the Sainsbury’s supermarket group.
Sainsbury’s has confirmed the deal has been won by rivals Marine Harvest, which opened its own seafood processing facility at Rosyth, near Edinburgh last year.
At least four executives from Young’s have left to work for Marine Harvest in the last few months.
Two more moved over in just the last three weeks, suggesting that Marine Harvest was confident of winning the contract some time ago.
Marine Harvest confirmed it has entered into an agreement for the supply of fresh and smoked salmon products to Sainsbury’s stores across the UK. Supply will commence in November 2015.
The work will be undertaken at the Admiralty Park processing plant at Rosyth in Fife.
Andy Stapley, managing director of Marine Harvest Consumer Products, confirmed the news today, saying: ‘This is excellent news for the company as well as for Rosyth and will mean significant expansion for the plant and more local jobs for the area.
‘This latest contract builds on the strong relationship Marine Harvest has established with Sainsbury’s over many years and is part of the company’s strategy to manage the entire food production process from farm to fork.’
The Rosyth plant, which started production in January 2015, has until now been mainly producing products under the Marine Harvest brand – Harbour Salmon Co.
The plant was acquired by Marine Harvest as part of its purchase of Morpol.
The 200,000 square feet facility at Admiralty Park is set to become one of the largest processing plants in the UK. The site is already employing more than 90 people and this figure will increase to around 350 during the next 12 months.
No precise figure has yet been placed on the number of job losses at Young’s, but there have been reports it could approach 500, mainly in Grimsby.
But there could also be many losses in Fraserburgh, Scotland, where Young’s has a large workforce.
It should also be noted, however, that the decision does not affect the dozens of different Young’s branded products which form by far the largest part of the business.
And Young’s is still processing other fish products for Sainsbury’s.
Nevertheless, the news is a major blow to a town which already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
Steve Norton, chief executive of Seafood Grimsby and Humber and chief executive of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association, told Fish Update: ‘Make no mistake, this is a terrible blow to Grimsby and to Young’s Seafood.
‘Young’s have had the Sainsbury’s salmon business for a long time and have a proven track record and a dedicated workforce who have done a good job for Sainsbury’s.
‘But this shows just how vulnerable things are in our industry, especially when decisions are directed by price and pressures to provide cheaper food for consumers.’
Norton said it was imperative that North East Lincolnshire (Grimsby) Council now work closely with Young’s to try to ease the impact of any redundancies.
George Krawiec, chairman of Seafood Grimsby and Humber, said the announcement was what many feared, but what everyone hoped would not come.
He said Seafood Grimsby and Humber would do everything it could to ensure the region maintained its position as the UK’s main fish processing centre.
Young’s COE Peter Ward said in a statement: ‘We confirm that, following a tendering process, Young’s has not retained the fresh salmon and smoked salmon processing contracts with Sainsbury’s.
‘Sainsbury’s wished to protect its Scottish salmon sourcing credentials and believed an alternative proposal could better achieve this objective. This alternative proposal also offered Sainsbury’s a dedicated facility.
‘Sainsbury’s remains an important customer for Young’s and we will continue to work together in other categories to deliver great fish and seafood products to Sainsbury’s customers.
‘It is presently anticipated that the salmon contracts will transfer from Young’s to Sainsbury’s new supplier from November 2015.
‘We will be engaging with our employees and other stakeholders to discuss the implications for our business and how we can best position our company to achieve long term, sustainable growth in the current competitive market place.
‘As we move forward, exploring a number of new business opportunities, our focus continues to be on serving our customers and consumers and on our commitment to providing high quality, good value, fish and seafood.’