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Icelandic Group’s focus tightens on Grimsby as sale of Belgian operations agreed

ICELANDIC Group, the seafood giant behind Grimsby's Icelandic Seachill, has agreed a sale of its Belgian subsidiary, Gadus.

Icelandic Group’s focus tightens on Grimsby as sale of Belgian operations agreed

The undisclosed deal is with fellow Icelandic business Steinasalir, with a consortium of North Atlantic interests behind it.

It will see the Grimsby business, based across dual sites on South Humberside Industrial Estate and Great Grimsby Business Park, become the only operation outside of Iceland.

With Far East interests sold off in 2015, it has fuelled speculation it too could change hands as a strategic shift takes place in Rejkjavik.

There was no official comment out of Iceland or Grimsby on a potential sale, which – according to sources – could be a positive, though would need the blessing of core customers, with Tesco and Sainsbury’s ranking highly.

“It is in great shape, it would not be a distress sale,” one insider told the Telegraph.

“The business is doing significantly better this year than last year, with Saucy going great guns.”

As reported late last year, Icelandic Seachill has set a course for huge growth, having turned a £3 million operating loss in 2014 into a £4.3 million profit in 2015.

It is behind the Saucy Fish Co brand which has just seen phenomenal growth in listings in the US and Canada, while launching in the frozen category in the UK with Sainsbury's.

Gadus is a leading processing, sales and distribution company for fresh fish products. Key species are salmon and cod, sold to retailers and cash and carry chains in Belgium. It handles and produces around 7,000 tonnes of products annually and employs around 130 people.

Steinasalir is owned by established Icelandic seafood companies, including Saemark Seafood, Fishproducts Iceland, and Akur, an Icelandic based private equity fund. The buyers aim to further promote sales and marketing of high quality seafood in Belgium and central Europe.

The Gadus sales process, announced by the board of Icelandic Group last January, received significant interest from multiple parties.

Herdís Dröfn Fjeldsted, Icelandic Group chairman and chief executive of Enterprise Investment Fund, said: “Icelandic Group acquired Gadus in 2012 with the primary aim of opening up a new market area for Icelandic seafood products. "Direct ownership of Icelandic seafood companies in Gadus is a very positive step, providing further opportunities to promote the image and value of Icelandic seafood in central Europe. We congratulate Steinasalir on the acquisition.”

Sigurður Gísli Björnsson, chief executive of Saemark Seafood, added: “Gadus is a very exciting investment opportunity to grow internationally. A key aim for us is to ensure that the Icelandic seafood industry continues to possess a whole value chain from catch to consumer. Direct access to consumer markets is an important component to maximise the value of Iceland's resources.”

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