Jobs fears after Icelandic Seachill loses Marks & Spencer contract

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 13 Jun 2016

A GRIMSBY seafood giant has warned that a large number of jobs could be at risk after it lost a huge contract with Marks and Spencer.

Icelandic Seachill is smarting following the decision by the retailer, with 1,200 people employed across three town sites.

The work is valued at between £50 million and £60 million, about one fifth of the company's turnover.

It focuses on coated, encroute and deli products, principally manufactured within the Estate Road Two base at the entrance to South Humberside Industrial Estate from the A180.

Simon Smith, chief executive, said: "This decision will have a huge impact on our business and the unfortunate reality is that a large number of roles may be at risk.

"We are currently reviewing all practicable alternative scenarios. It is early days and we are working on detailed proposals which we will share with our employees at the earliest opportunity. Our number one priority is to support those directly impacted by the decision that M&S has taken."

The timing of the transfer of business, and who to, is, as yet, unknown, although there are hopes across the cluster, and for those at risk of redundancy, that it is retained in Grimsby.

MORE:Seachill bosses say workers are better off with new payments as staff face contract termination

It comes after a trading relationship of more than 30 years.

Mr Smith added: "The Icelandic Seachill business remains in good shape with strong and continuing partnerships with our remaining customers."

Last year saw the £100-million Sainsbury's contract loss by Grimsby-based Young's Seafood, albeit much of that concentrated in Scotland.

Steve Norton, chief executive of cluster organisation Seafood Grimsby & Humber, said: "This just demonstrates the fragility and competitiveness of the industry when dealing with the multiples. They are always looking for a better price, screwing a supplier down so they can perceivably offer better value for customers.

"We have seen this before. Thankfully, Icelandic Seachill has a strong own brand in The Saucy Fish Co, which is doing well, with a lot of innovation within the group. I hope it is not too long before they can replace this business.

"In the mean time it is sad news as it is jobs in Grimsby, direct jobs and indirect jobs as well. While there is no news where the contract is going, we hope it stays in Grimsby. We are a proven centre of excellence for seafood processing."

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