Scottish Salmon Company sales leap on overseas demand

Strong overseas demand for Scottish salmon has seen one of the country's biggest producers post record sales figures as it recovers from a difficult 2016.

Scottish Salmon Company said demand for its fish 'has never been higher'. Picture: Stephen Mansfield
Scottish Salmon Company said demand for its fish 'has never been higher'. Picture: Stephen Mansfield

The Scottish Salmon Company, which employs some 500 people across more than 50 sites in Scotland, saw revenue grow by 25 per cent in the first half of the year to £72 million.

The Oslo-listed fish farmer also saw net earnings rise to £24.3m from £16.9m in the first half of 2016. Increased overseas sales to markets including North America and the Far East helped exports rise to more than 50 per cent of total turnover, compared to 42 per cent last year. New markets established by the company include Cambodia and Laos.

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The group said biological issues such as problems caused by sealice, which hit the industry last year, remain challenging for firms but added that its own ability to manage the issue has improved significantly compared to last year.

Chief executive Craig Anderson said demand for premium quality Scottish salmon across the globe “has never been higher”.

“We have maximised the opportunities this provides, evidenced by a record half year performance,” he said.

“Our strategy for long-term sustainable growth is paying dividends with another site expansion consented in the period and a robust pipeline in place. Our programme of site development and securing long-term customers relationships at home and overseas, are the fundamentals which underpin this growth strategy and remain our key focus for the remainder of 2017.”

Investment in infrastructure progressed throughout the period including the purchase of a hatchery business, a longstanding supplier.

The company has recently secured consent for an additional 2,000 tonnes of capacity at a site at Portree on Skye and said a number of other proposals for site developments were under way. The Portree site will be stocked in 2018 with first harvests anticipated in late 2019.

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The firm said annual harvest volumes for this year are expected to be 25,000 tonnes.

It added that although the effects of Brexit are yet to be seen, it will “maintain strong relationships with its customers within the EU area while also continuing to increase exposure to overseas markets in North America and the Far East”.

The Edinburgh-headquartered company is the latest fish firm to report positive results as the industry continues to benefit from high prices.

Earlier this month Norwegian fish farmer Marine Harvest reported its best second quarter on record. Its Scottish arm, Marine Harvest Scotland, accounted for around a third of total group earnings.

Government figures also showed Scottish salmon exports reached a record £346m in the first half of 2017 – up 70 per cent on the same period last year. The US is the largest market, while China is the biggest Asian buyer.