Macduff Shellfish family nets £50m from sale

Euan Beaton will become president of Macduff after sale. Picture: Duncan Brown

Euan Beaton will become president of Macduff after sale. Picture: Duncan Brown

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THE family behind Macduff Shellfish, one of Europe’s leading seafood processing businesses, has secured a windfall of around £50 million after selling the firm to a Canadian buyer.

Macduff, which is based near Peterhead and employs around 400 people at its seasonal peak, has been sold by the Beaton family and investment group Change Capital Partners to Clearwater Seafoods for £98.4m. The deal is one of the largest private company sales in Scotland in recent years. The Beaton family owned half the company and chairman Euan Beaton – who will become president of Macduff following the sale – said the deal was “great news” for its UK operations which include sites at Dumfries, Mintlaw near Peterhead, Stornoway and Exeter and said it brings access to new markets, investment and opportunities for growth.

“Having reached our goal of building a £52m business, we had one suitor in mind which shares our vision and values to enable us to accelerate our growth on a global scale. With a similar vertically integrated business model, sustainability at its heart, sound employee practices and strong relationships with fishermen but operating on a much bigger scale, Clearwater is an ideal fit for Macduff.” said Beaton.

Nova Scotia-based Clearwater is one of North America’s largest seafood companies, employing approximately 1,400 people, delivering wild seafood including scallops, lobster, clams, shrimp and crab.

Following the deal, Macduff will retain its name and operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Clearwater.

Ian Smith, Clearwater’s chief executive, said: “The acquisition of Macduff brings together two of the world’s leading and fastest growing vertically integrated wild shellfish harvesters. The transaction will allow Clearwater to integrate its vessel management and sustainable harvesting practices, innovative processing technologies along with its global sales, marketing and distribution footprint into Macduff.”

He said Macduff had a “talented management team, excellent resource assets and a strong presence in Europe” which is the world’s largest and most valuable seafood market.

“Our companies have been building a working relationship for more than three years and we are confident Macduff represents a highly attractive investment with a strong strategic fit for Clearwater.”

Change Capital Partners had taken its stake in Macduff five years ago. The sale will result in total returns for it of 2.7 times invested capital.

Partner Steven Petrow said at the time it invested, there was a “compelling opportunity to transform the business through international expansion and strategic acquisitions”.

He said yesterday: “Thanks to our successful partnership with the Beaton family and management we have delivered on all fronts and are incredibly proud of Macduff’s achievements.

“This has been a very successful investment and we are convinced that the next chapter in the company’s history will be very exciting.”

Macduff, which specialises in scallops, langoustines, whelks and crabs, was founded in 1985 by the fifth generation of the Beaton family which has been involved in the industry for more than 120 years. The company was advised by Anderson Anderson & Brown, Burness Paull and KPMG on the sale.

KPMG partner James Murray said the deal “continues the ongoing consolidation in the wider seafood sector where we expect to see further activity in the short to medium term”.

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