Whitelink leaps into the black despite sales dip

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FISH processing group Whitelink Seafoods, which exports products across Europe, has swung back into profit despite a dip in sales.

Accounts just filed at Companies House show that the Fraserburgh-based firm booked a pre-tax profit of just over £379,000 for the year to the end of June, compared with a loss of £61,000 in the previous 12 months.

Turnover at the group, which handles more than 50 species of fish and also operates a processing facility in France, fell by 3 per cent to £50.7 million.

Writing in the annual report, the directors described the outcome for the year as “satisfactory”. The accounts also revealed a sharp rise in operating profit to about £473,000 from £80,000 the year before.

Fisherman James Sutherland founded Whitelink more than 30 years ago – its first headquarters was in his garden shed.

The company later moved to premises at Fraserburgh harbour’s Steamboat Quay. Its current plant, just off Watermill Road in the town, is said to be one of the most technologically-advanced in Europe.

According to the latest accounts, the number of employees rose by nine to 133, six of them classed as “management and office” roles and three factory posts. Total pay packages to directors of the firm leapt from £496,146 to just above £1.1m.

The accounts list four members of the Sutherland family as current directors. Three were appointed on 1 October, after the year end, while James Sutherland stepped down on 7 July. James’s wife, Marie, is listed as company secretary.

Figures last month highlighted the importance of the fish industry to the Scottish economy.

Total food and drink export sales reached a record high of £5.4 billion in 2011. Fish and shellfish was the highest-value food sector, up 4 per cent to £648.4m.