Growth forced move
Magnus Houston, the owner of both Coast & Glen and Fishbox, snapped up the site after the production facilities in the same town that Coast & Glen were originally using started to limit growth. The new location was formerly the home of Summer Isles Foods, until financial difficulties forced the producers to close their doors. Houston has confirmed that everyone who had been working in food jobs at the Summer Isles factory will be offered employment once it starts up again under his banner.
“The current facility has made it harder for Coast & Glen to maintain growth and we have had to turn down opportunities due to our production capacity,” said Houston. “Now, we are full steam ahead, with our first orders going to New York and Paris this week and a trip booked to set up trade in Dubai in October.”
He also stated that the choice to remain in Alness for the plant move was to support food jobs recruitment in the local community, which is the area in which he grew up. This was what drove him to remain in the same area rather than moving further afield to Glasgow – despite the fact that this is where the majority of fish producers are based.
“This was the reason that I put a lot of time pressure on the people involved in the transition of the purchase of Summer Isles Foods,” he stressed. “It had to be fast enough to retain the Summer Isles employees, keeping their jobs secure, which is just fantastic for us and the local area, and we look forward to creating more jobs and putting something back into the community.”
Rapid growth and success
Coast & Glen was only established in 2011, but it now supplies more than 300 hotels and restaurants in the Highlands and Islands areas. It also made a move into the London market earlier this year. Houston then launched Fishbox in 2014, with his wife Fiona. It is a delivery service which sends freshly caught fish out across the UK directly to consumers within hours of it being brought back to shore.
Coast & Glen’s turnover is now more than £2.2m. This makes a combined turnover for Coast & Glen along with Fishbox of more than £3m by the end of the year. Big things are also coming: the company is looking to receive its first shipment of king crab. It claims that this will make them the main distributor of this meat in the UK.
Houston has been awarded multiple times for his managerial skills and business sense. The Institute of Directors named him Young Director of the Year, while he is also a former EY Entrepreneur of the Year. It’s clear that he has been recognised for the fact that he has been able to build up two innovative businesses to great forces in the market.
They are now set to become even more important employers in the local area, as they expand their team and their facilities, allowing further growth and thus further potential expansion. If all goes well, they should be able to increase their output and supply to a larger number of customers – across a wider distribution network, perhaps branching out overseas as well as at home. It will be exciting to watch.