Business minister Paul Wheelhouse says Young's failed to consult economic development agency Scottish Enterprise agency about the proposed closure of its Pinney's site in the Dumfries-shire town which meant they were unable explore "alternative options" to turn the situation around.And he has now called for the company to continue to "co-operate" with a Scottish Government team which has been set up to save the factory.The firm proposes moving salmon production currently undertaken at Pinney's to the company's Grimsby site, following the loss of a contract to Marks and Spencer.
In a letter to Young's chief executive Bill Showalter, the minister says the closure came as a "great shock" to staff employed at the site.He added: "The announcement also came as a shock to our economic agency, Scottish Enterprise, with whom you have an account management relationship.
"This, too, is disappointing, as I believe that more constructive, earlier engagement may have enabled us to explore alternative options to support Young’s and the Pinneys team to ensure the site maximised its competitiveness, prior to any decisions regarding future contracts, which led to an announcement of this nature being made."
He said the firm's priority, along with th Government, must be to maintain some form of production on the site.The letter also says Young's have been co-opertaing well with a Scottish Government team assembled to save the factory from the axe."I hope this cooperation will continue over the days and weeks ahead, underpinned by a genuine willingness to explore all viable options to maintain production at the site and safeguard as many jobs as possible." The firm has been left in a "challenging" commercial environment, Mr Wheelhouse says.But he adds: "I also think that Young’s has an obligation to consider the profound impact such a decision will have on the families affected by this announcement. In some cases, as you will know, entire households are employed at Pinneys, and therefore we must leave no stone unturned in exploring all possible options to maintain production there."