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Seachill CEO to stay as ‘very powerful’ food business emerges with appetite for growth

SEACHILL chief executive Simon Smith is staying at the helm of the Grimsby seafood giant, as skills and scale merge to form a “very powerful” food company.

Seachill CEO to stay as ‘very powerful’ food business emerges with appetite for growth

Describing the buy-out by Hilton Food Group as a really interesting development for the industry, he is looking forward to leading the transformation outlined as part of today’s deal announcement.

Major investment from the enlarged group has been spelled out, including increasing capacity and using Hilton’s experience in robotics and automated processes to “develop state-of-the-art facilities in the assembling, packing and distributing of fish products,” delivering higher quality and better value.

Overseas expansion has also being talked up, with Hilton keen to hone the Seachill management team’s “expertise in the fish category” following its own arrival in Portugal and Australia.

Mr Smith, who became managing director of Icelandic Seachill three years ago, having pioneered the Saucy brand as sales and marketing director, said: “Hilton and Seachill together become one of the top 10 biggest food businesses in the UK and that gives us the platform to continue with the amazing growth we have seen over the last few years.

“There is a very strong strategic fit between the businesses, and I believe the transaction will be welcomed by all stakeholders. Under the ownership of Hilton we will be able to invest further in our facilities and improve our organisational capability to serve our customers better.  This is great news for the ongoing success of the business.”

Seachill, as it will now be known, will become a standalone division of Hilton, with Mr Smith to head it up.

“The current management team has tackled a number of historic problems in the business and embarked on a very successful strategy,” he said.

Last month the company revealed how profits were up 41 per cent to £5.5 million, with sales increasing 7 per cent to £266.3 million.

It built on 2015’s results which saw a loss of £3 million transformed into a profit of £4.3 million.

Acknowledging the ambitions laid out as Hilton announced the deal to investors ahead of today’s opening of the stock market, Mr Smith said: “Hilton has the scale to do this. We have the ideas and skills, they have the resources and capability. The two together are going to be very powerful. 

“It is exciting. What is really pleasing is Hilton has seen the strength of the current management team and what has been achieved over the past couple of years.”

Having announced it to staff, briefings were being held through the day on Great Grimsby Business Park and South Humberside Industrial Estate.

“The overriding message is that it is great news for the business which will enable us to continue the great work of the last few years,” Mr Smith said. “We see growth ahead and it has got to be good news for the business.” 

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