Seafood firm toasts ‘great progress in Grimsby’ as sales hit £161m

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New England Seafood International has underlined the “great progress” it has made in Grimsby, as latest results revealed turnover nudged up 4 per cent to £161 million.

The company joined the UK’s leading seafood cluster with the acquisition of Albert Darnell in 2016.

It took on the Europarc base, having just seen sales hit the £100 million mark in Chessington, Surrey, where it remains headquartered.

Winning significant work with Asda – from town giant Young’s – has seen it move forward at pace, with further launches adding to the sales growth.

Group chief executive Dan Aherne, in his annual review, said he was pleased with the performance “given the challenging trading conditions on the UK high street” in the year to October 31.   Political uncertainty had seen consumer spending tightening early in the year, and that was reflected in the business, however it brought in an operating profit of £5 million, 11 per cent down on 2018’s £5.6 million.      

“We made great progress on developing our factory and our team at Grimsby,” Mr Aherne said. “The significant investment continues, and we now have an excellent facility to retail standard.

“We successfully launched a full white fish range for Asda in January 2019 and subsequently developed a strong working relationship as the white fish supplier to the Co-op Group, leading to a May 2019 launch.

Dan Aherne, group chief executive of New England Seafood International.
Dan Aherne, group chief executive of New England Seafood International.
(Image: New England Seafood International)

“These customers recognise the significance of the fish-buying consumer to build their businesses. This reinforces our strategic positioning in the market and our view that the UK consumer wishes to buy quality white fish presented in stimulating and appetising ways.”

The year closed with the sale of legacy food service business of Albert Darnell to another Grimsby operator, Jaines Seafood – with Mike Woods, the director who sold to New England, transferring across the town with the work.

“As part of our long-term strategy we exited the food service business that was operated from the Grimsby factory. This mainly serviced a range of fish and chip shops and independent food service outlets,” Mr Aherne said, thanking 30 staff who moved across “for all of their work in the past”.

“One of the benefits of this move was to create more operational space and to significantly simplify the factory operations,” he added. “At Grimsby we now focus on our retail customers in providing them with exemplary service.”

Despite the business sector sale, employee numbers across the group increased from 627 to 725.

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