A decision by supermarket giant J Sainsbury to close fresh fish counters at its larger stores around the country will be seen as a blow to salmon and other seafood suppliers.
The company yesterday announced a £137 million half year loss and said it was cutting 3,500 jobs through the closure of its fish, meat and deli counters and 420 stand-alone Argos outlets. However, fish will still be available from its chilled food aisles.
Sainsbury’s owns around 600 large stores and is one of the largest buyers of seafood in the UK so suppliers are likely to feel an impact on top of that caused by the closure of restaurants and hospitality venues as part of the measures to control Covid-19.
Mowi is likely to be one of the companies hit the hardest. Five years ago, when it was known as Marine Harvest, it controversially snatched a huge £80 million fresh and smoked salmon contract from Young’s of Grimsby, moving production to its factory at Rosyth, near Edinburgh.
The switch led to job losses in Grimsby, with some Young’s junior executives joining the Mowi operation. Young’s supplies Sainsbury’s with other types of fish.
Fresh fish counters became increasingly popular from the 1980s onwards, but more recently have since lost some of their appeal.
Among the busiest are those owned by Sainsbury’s rival, Morrisons, which has its own dedicated seafood factory in Grimsby serving stores around the country.