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Urgency call for seafood growth grants as funding organisation take in exemplar project

SEAFOOD businesses keen to secure funding to aid growth plans have been urged to act quickly ahead of the post-Brexit unknown.

Urgency call for seafood growth grants as funding organisation take in exemplar project

Senior figures from the Marine Management Organisation paid Grimsby Seafood Village a visit today (September 20), taking in a successful project that benefited from the significant European funding it acts as the conduit for.

And the chief executive, John Tuckett, urged those contemplating investment in their businesses to push ahead now.

Mr Tuckett, who was given a guided tour of the impressive facility with 15 colleagues, including chairman Sir Bill Callaghan, was asked about what the future holds for valuable funds such as those he plays a part in distributing.

“At this stage we don’t know,” he said. “I think there is a general intent to have some form of fund as a follow on from the EMFF (the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund it is currently working from). We don’t yet totally understand. That’s going to come from Treasury.

“There is money available until we exit, and the Treasury has given some assurance there will be a continuation to support projects already there. People should put grant applications in early.”

Turning his attention to Grimsby Seafood Village, where more  than 20 companies now employ 195 people, turning over £10 million on the purpose-built site, Mr Tuckett said: “It is great to see something happening from the grants we have processed. It is have a vital impact on the community.”

Grimsby Seafood Village received £1.2 million in funding, with a further £14,500 for the training school established there.

The strides taken for small processors from run-down Victorian premises were outlined, and not lost on Sir Bill, who was honoured for his work in occupational health and safety.

He said: “I think it is very impressive, and this is a very important part of what we do.

“We are charged with wider government policy, about looking after the environment, but also it is about looking after the economy as well. One of the objectives we have is to improve the lot of coastal communities, and there is no doubt that places like Grimsby and Hull, and many other coastal communities, that it is imperative that projects like this go ahead.”

Ivan Jaines-White, commercial manager for Grimsby Seafood Village, gave the welcome and tour, alongside director Lea Kirwin.

“You can see what you support has done, not just supporting Grimsby Seafood Village opening here, but supporting the businesses that are driving the changes too. Without that funding this would not have happened. Please do not underestimate the work you have done, it is very important to this sector.”

Describing the realisation of a need for modern premises that can meet demanding standards, Mr Jaines-White paid tribute to founders Gary Cadey and Pete Dalton, merchants with “scales under their nails”.

He said: “They landed it, they landed it in a big way,” telling how they overcame numerous hurdles, not least the principal contractor going bust as it emerged after the deepest recession of a generation.

Underlining how opportunities are now opening up with sub-contracting of work with the industry giants, Mr Jaines-White reflected on Wynne Griffiths CBE being described as “Mr Seafood” when receiving his knighthood from Princess Royal. “In my mind these people (Gary and Pete) are the Wynne Griffiths’ of the SME sector. They have provided for a great many businesses.

“Pete and Gary recognised what was needed for the small merchants. There is a polarisation between the big boys and the two to three man bands, doing the work for the fish and chip shops. The giants want 24/7 production for retailers, they don’t like to do bits and pieces in small volumes. It means line changes. This means big opportunities for smaller operators. If the premises are right, they can tap into the majors who don’t want to disrupt production lines. It is much better for them to outsource that.”

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