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Icelandic Seachill site sale brings growth boost to seafood cluster

A RECENTLY mothballed seafood factory has been snapped up by a regional seafood operator as it seeks to grow its Grimsby interests.

Icelandic Seachill site sale brings growth boost to seafood cluster

Seagold has had its offer to buy Icelandic Seachill’s meals site on South Humberside Industrial Estate accepted, with the long-term plan to create more jobs in the town.

The site, one of three operated by the town’s second largest fish processor, became available following the loss of the Marks and Spencer contract, with much of it dramatically switched to town rival Five Star Fish.

Ironically, an element of the work that will be taken there will be fore the high street retailer.

The deal is for the assets only, and is separate to the sale process announced for the entire business, albeit without such a liability it will make the Tesco own label and Saucy Fish Co business even more attractive to suitors.

Gustaf Baldvinsson, sales and marketing director of parent company Samherji, said: “This acquisition gives us scope to significantly grow our existing business and consolidate our group’s UK storage and distribution.”

Established in 1996, Seagold sells frozen at sea fillets under the Ice Fresh brand. As well as selling Samherji products, it also sells from vessels operating out of The Faroes, England, Scotland, Poland and Germany.

Seagold is based on an office park in Hessle, where a team of six is employed. Customers cover wholesale, retail and processing sectors. Much of the wholesale goes into the fish and chip trade.

Ice Fresh, which operates from a unit on Grimsby’s Estate Road Eight, employs 38 people.

Roy Roberts, general manager, said: "The existing Ice Fresh operation will, over time, move in to the new site.

"Our parent company is obviously confident that we can grow the business further into new areas, but also with existing customers."

The new premises, on Estate Road Five, was formerly known as the Coldwater West site, prior to the flattening of the Icelandic Group’s structure in the UK, creating Icelandic Seachill back in 2013.

In late 2008 a total of £1.5 million was invested there to create a new development suite for product innovation. It was launched by then Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell, and Einar Gudfinnsson, Iceland’s Fishing Minister.

Having previously been threatened with closure, the axe finally fell in August last year, with the work ending in March. It had been revealed as restructures went on, that it had never returned a profit.

Meals for M&S were produced there, and for others, including Asda, as well as deli operations which have been moved to the nearby coating plant, just off the A180 on Estate Road Two.

Icelandic Seachill chief executive, Simon Smith, said: “We are pleased that local jobs will be created as a result of the purchase by Samherji and have worked with both Samherji and the council to facilitate this.”

It follows the release of statistics from Grimsby-based Seafish that showed how the Humber region is bucking the trend when it comes to job creation in the industry, with UK consolidation focusing on the area, making it a growth industry in employment terms.

Simon Dwyer, secretariat to Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association and a driving force behind cluster organisation Seafood Grimsby & Humber, said: “Once again, given what has been going on over the past few weeks in terms of market forces, this is another example of people wanting to invest in Grimsby.

“That’s the key message, the trust in the skills we have got and the supply chain we have got.”

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