AROUND 900 Scottish jobs are to be axed after a seafood firm lost a multi-million pound contract to a major supermarket chain.
Young’s Seafood has announced it is to “restructure” its factories across the country, resulting in the closure of its bases in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, and Grantown-on-Spey in the Highlands.
It follows an announcement by Sainsbury’s to end its £100 million salmon supply contract with the firm, switching instead to Scandinavian-based Marine Harvest, who have a number of operations in Scotland.
Young’s chief executive Pete Ward said its announcement did not reflect on “the skilled teams” at the Scottish factories, who are “committed, dedicated and continue to work hard through this time”. Mr Ward added: “This process will not be easy, but we have to face some tough decisions and we believe the proposals could deliver a significantly more sustainable manufacturing footprint than other potential consolidation options.
“As we move forward, we continue to be focused on providing our customers and consumers with high quality, good value fish and seafood and we will talk, in detail, with employees about options for the future.
“Sainsbury’s wished to protect its Scottish salmon sourcing credentials and believed an alternative proposal could better achieve this objective.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s head of economic development, Belinda Miller, said: “This is obviously a significant blow to the area’s economy and the ongoing regeneration of Fraserburgh.
“It is disappointing that one contract relating to salmon can have such an impact on the UK’s largest white fish processing region and a significant section of its skilled workforce.
“Although the decision by Young’s is hugely disappointing and unfortunate, we will continue to work with the firm where possible to investigate the options available.”
Highland councillor Bill Lobban, whose constituency covers Grantown-on-Spey, said: “Although the factory here is small, the loss of around 20-odd jobs is proportionally massive. If it was in the city, it would be equivalent to thousands of jobs.”
A spokesman for the supermarket chain said: “We have been carrying out a thorough review of our Scottish salmon suppliers to ensure we can offer our customers the best products possible.
“As a result of the supplier tender, we have given advance notice to Young’s Seafood that they will no longer pack and process salmon products for us. However Young’s will continue to supply us with fish, including cod and haddock.”
“Marine Harvest, which is an existing supplier that already grows Scottish farmed salmon for the supermarket, will fulfil the whole process.”
Union Usdaw’s area organiser Kate Cumming said: “The loss of the contract is very worrying.”