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Japanese seafood swoop for Grimsby-area production plants

JAPANESE seafood firm Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd has agreed to buy-out Sealord Group Ltd’s shares in its Grimsby-area operations.

Japanese seafood swoop for Grimsby-area production plants

The company has a substantial plant in Caistor, employing about 220 people, and the Keith Graham smokehouse in Grimsby, and supplies fresh and processed seafood to high-end supermarket chain Waitrose.

The £4 billion Japanese business, known as Nissui, will see its European arm, Nippon Suisan (Europe) BV take full control. It already owned half of the business, sharing it with the New Zealand giant, which traded as Sealord Caistor Ltd from Enterprise Road, Caistor, and Keith Graham in Cross Street, Grimsby.

The former is to be renamed Caistor Seafoods Ltd once the acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, is completed on Saturday.

Sealord chief executive, Steve Yung, said: “All businesses need to have a clear focus and prioritise, along with continually reviewing their operations. The strategic decision to sell our interests in Sealord Caistor enables us to continue to be focused on operational performance and our vision to be the best deep sea fishing business in New Zealand with a significant salmon farming operation in Australia.”

He told how the group valued the long-term relationship with Waitrose that the Caistor operation had established, adding: “We believe the Caistor business is strong, with good long term prospects and a solid relationship with its cornerstone customer, the Waitrose supermarket chain.

“Being aligned with a company that has similar ambitions in the European seafood processing space will help the business achieve its full potential.

“We have a great team at Caistor and Grimsby in Britain who have made a valued contribution to our business over many years.”

It will be business as usual with the change of ownership, said Sealord Caistor chief executive Adrian Crookes, pictured.

“There will be no change to our focus of servicing Waitrose with great quality seafood and Waitrose has given its full support to Nissui’s 100 per cent investment,” Mr Crookes said.

Waitrose prides itself on quality, sustainability and traceability, and has historically oversold on seafood as consumers recognise the credentials.

The Sealord site has previously been described as agile, customer-centric and well positioned to grow.

Mr Crookes, who joined in January 2012 as chief financial officer, was appointed chief executive in July 2013. Previously the site was run by former Grimsby Town footballer Keith Brown, who remains in the business.

Simon Dwyer, secretariat for Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association, said: “Nissui is obviously developing a footprint in Europe, it has a presence in Denmark and France, it is a vertically integrated organisation and I wonder whether this may be a first step to establish themselves more in the region.”

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