Jobs blow as Five Star Fish could be set to close

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 28 Mar 2018

GRIMSBY’S Five Star Fish factory looks set to close, with the loss of 390 jobs. 

Staff at the huge four acre site have just been dealt the hammer blow, with the whole facility under consultation as bosses call time on years of loss-making. 

A total of £11 million has been invested in recent times, as it aimed to support the award of a major contract with Marks and Spencer.  

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 M&S work was won from near-neighbour Icelandic Seachill in late 2016.

There are hopes contracts can be retained in the town's cluster.

Owned by Two Sisters Food 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. 

Early last year it had taken on a further 70 staff to handle the M&S contract, which had been served by the town for a long time, initially by Coldwater then under the Icelandic Seachill brand.

The Christmas period saw the retailer down more than 9 per cent on trade value, and more than 5 per cent on volume, with warning signs earlier in the year.

Over the year it suffered a clear downturn, in the company of Morrisons and Asda as Tesco, Aldi and Lidl led the way with growth.

Regarded as Britain's biggest food manufacturer, and owned by the West Midlands-based Boparan family, it is understood food interests on Europarc and chicken facilities in Scunthorpe are buoyant. The business was rocked by a food standards scandal at a facility in West Bromwich last year, and last month, chief executive and regular Rich List entrant, Ranjit Boparan, stepped down from his role.   

In Grimsby, there have been frequent changes at the helm of what has been a very private operation under the latest regime. 

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