£17.2m – Five Star Fish losses are revealed as consultation continues
The under-threat Five Star Fish plant. Inset, Ranjit Singh Boparan, the only director remaining over the last financial year.
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 15 May 2018
CONSULTATION with hundreds of beleaguered Five Star Fish workers is ongoing, as bosses at Two Sisters Food Group look to close down the loss-making seafood factory.
A total of 390 jobs are at risk, after time was called on years of operating in the red back in March.
Losses can now be revealed to be a staggering £17.2 million on a £57 million turnover in the last financial year, on top of £6.5 million (on £51.9 million) in the previous 12 months, with restructuring costs accounting for £14.6 million of the most recent hit.
Major investments had been made in the Great Grimsby Business Park plant to support a major contract award from Marks and Spencer.
That work, won from near neighbour Seachill, has now been surrendered, with Grimsby’s Young’s Seafood winning the contract with the High Street giant, and easing the jobs blow with a vow to create 200 jobs as it also moves salmon processing “home” from Scotland.
It all broke in the week leading up to the busiest single day in seafood, Good Friday, with Morrisons – boosted by a lift in sales in the first quarter of 2018 – also creating 100 more jobs on Europarc.
At the time, a spokesman said: “Five Star Fish has undertaken a full strategic review of its business and has concluded its operation at Grimsby is not sustainable in its current form for the long-term.
“We are having on-going discussions with our customers and with other local manufacturers to ensure we explore the full range of options available to us. However, the site is heavily loss-making and despite major investment in recent years, we are unable to reverse the situation. Regrettably, we have now reached a stage where we have to enter into a period of consultation with colleagues and customers about the future of the site and what it might mean for them.
“It is important to emphasise that no final decisions have yet been made as the consultation process has only just begun.”
The 45-day minimum consultation period has now expired, but a company spokesman said the process was still ongoing.
Five Star’s annual report has treated it as a going concern, with confidence in being “able to realise its assets and discharge its liabilities for the foreseeable future” with the consultation bringing “material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt as to the company’s intention to continue to trade”. It details a period of significant boardroom upheaval either side of the financial year closing on July 29. In what looks like a frantic eight weeks of change, former Young’s chief Stephen Leadbeater resigned, as did Gareth Davies, with a run of appointments also made, with Richard Pike, Martyn Fletcher, Richard Simpson and Simon Wookey all landing from the wider group. The only constant throughout was Two Sisters chair Ranjit Singh Boparan.
Owned by his group since 2010, Five Star was the creation of John Fenty, major shareholder and director of Grimsby Town FC, with the purpose-built plant set up on Great Grimsby Business Park in the mid-Nineties.
It has changed hands three times since he sold up in 2004, having been expanded and bought out of administration in a turbulent decade.
Specialising in frozen, breaded, battered and further added value whitefish products, production facilities span 2,000 sq m, with a 5,000 pallet capacity coldstore.