The impending sale of seafood manufacturer Young’s is causing mass confusion amongst both employees and local authorities – after they had announced plans to close their site in Annan.
The new announcement throws doubt over whether the sale will go ahead at all, leaving 450 workers in limbo over the future of their employment.
Sales Upon Sales
It seems that Young’s really can’t make up their minds. Only recently, they had announced that 450 food jobs were at risk due to their decision to sell their Pinneys site. Now they have muddied the waters completely by announcing the sale of the entire business.
Lion Capital is their parent company, and it is owned by HPS Investment Partners (UK), a private equity firm, along with Bain Capital Credit and Lion Capital. They announced that the whole business is up for sale and that the bidding process is now open.
“We have sent out notification that we intend to start a structured and open bidding process with all interested parties for the sale of the Young’s Seafood group,” said a statement from a spokesperson. “Young’s Seafood is the UK’s leading seafood supplier, with a 200-year heritage and a turnover of over £500m. We aim to inspire people to love fish now and for generations to come.”
Concerned parties have rightfully pointed out that it would be unwise for the Young’s management team to make any further financial decisions while the future of the company is still in limbo. The Pinneys site was due for relocation of all production to a plant in Grimsby.
Although they had announced that the expansion in Grimsby would trigger food recruitment for another 200 jobs, they would not be enough nor reasonably close enough to help those who lost their jobs in Scotland.
The Minister for Business, Paul Wheelhouse, had already been in discussion with Young’s about the sale of the Pinney’s site. He has noted that he will be in contact with them once again regarding their plans for this new sale.
“I will be writing to Young’s to ask them to keep open all options to secure a positive future for the site, such as retaining it as part of the company, as a new buyer is sought, while pursuing our existing work to identify other investors who may be interested in the Pinneys of Scotland site, staff and iconic brand,” he said.
Other MSPs were in agreement that the sale announcement had come at a critical time – and that the company now needs to be careful of how it moves forward. Joan McAlpine said that she felt it was “imperative that the closure plans are put on hold so that the consultation can run its course, and so that the action group has the chance to talk to the new owners of the plant”.
It is certainly very odd for them to choose this timing to announce the sale of the business. Whether this is a panicked move from a company that believes its business is no longer sustainable no matter what they do, or simply a case of a mistake in planning, remains yet to be seen. One thing is for sure: it’s not likely that they will now go ahead with the sale of the Pinneys site against the advice of governmental authorities.
On the other hand, this might not feel like a relief to the employees who are waiting to learn about whether they still have jobs. They will have to wait in limbo until the company is sold and the new owners have a chance to make assessments.