Consultation process failed
Europeenne de la Mer, a subsidiary of the Thai Union Group, is the owner of the Edinburgh Salmon Company. They had announced back in September that they were going into a consultation on whether it would be possible to sell the business, or whether it would have to be closed. They have since announced that no potential alternative was found, leading to the business preparing to close its doors at the end of the year.
This means, of course, that those who are in food jobs with the company are now in a perilous position. However, the consultation process will now begin on a one to one basis.
A spokeswoman said, “We are making every possible effort to support our employees – we are exploring available roles within Thai Union Group and are working with the Scottish Government’s local enterprise and skills agencies to find and secure alternative employment for them in the local area. Until we start the individual consultation process, it’s impossible to give details of when people may leave the business. However, we expect that this will be a phased process to ensure we are able to fulfil our contracts over the Christmas period.”
This will, however, clearly mean that all of their employees will be out of a job either directly before or directly after Christmas – which is perhaps the worst possible time of year to be out of work. That will mean that many employees are distraught at the news, and will be on the lookout for food recruitment opportunities sooner rather than later.
Poor financial performance
According to the company, there were a number of reasons leading up to their eventual decision to shut the factory down. One of these was repeated periods of poor performance on a financial level at the factory, which was not pulling its weight within the overall company’s structure.
The continued losses for the business were linked to an over-capacity of produce in the UK chilled seafood industry – with salmon processing being one particular area where these problems were seen.
“Many processors chasing a finite number of customer contracts has made the market extremely competitive, even as overall market demand continues to grow,” said the spokeswoman. “The second major challenge has been volatility in the price of fish, particularly Norwegian and Scottish salmon. These issues have made financial forecasting and planning impossible and have led to a number of processors closing sites and operations.”
It is thought that the Edinburgh Salmon Company lost a large contract to supply their fish products to Pret A Manger last year. This led to a loss of £5.2 million for the year ending on 31st December 2017, according to the accounts that were most recently published.
Overfishing is a serious problem for the seafood industry, as it causes two big issues for retailers, manufacturers, and producers. Firstly, it drives the price of the fish down for the short-term, and may mean that some catches are thrown away due to there not being enough timely demand. Secondly, it can reduce the fish population to dangerous levels in the long-term, causing a shift in the eco-system which might then affect other species and population levels.
More must be done to regulate this issue, particularly in times like the present when the market seems buoyant – and too many processors rush in to fill the orders.