Almost 200 jobs could be saved in Grimsby with the emergence of a buyer for the Iceland Seafood UK plant.
A letter of intent to sell the subsidiary to a “respected industry player” has now been signed by parent company Iceland Seafood International, as a thorough examination of the business begins. It is hoped a deal could now be agreed before the year-end.
The significant step forward emerged out of Reykjavik this morning, and comes just over a fortnight after the company announced it was to exit the UK market, putting the significant number of roles at risk on Great Grimsby Business Park.
Read more: £5m boost defrosts huge Grimsby cold storage expansion after costs soared on £30m plant
Losses of £12 million were reported since the former Five Star Fish plant was taken on just as Brexit hit, with operations catering for both retail and the locked down foodservice sector. Brexit complications and lack of stock entering the pandemic had also been voiced.
In a statement released by the company, chief executive Bjarni Ármannsson, said: “Further to Iceland Seafood’s announcement on November 17, Iceland Seafood has today signed a Letter of Intent with a respected industry player to sell its subsidiary Iceland Seafood UK Ltd. The LoI is a legally non-binding document but its provisions will serve as key terms in the event of the potential transaction.
“The parties have agreed to run a swift due diligence process with the aim to complete a binding agreement before the end of December. Further update on the progress made in relation to the proposed transaction and its financial impact on Iceland Seafood will be provided as appropriate.”
The lifeline will be welcome news just before Christmas for a team management had faith in to be an attraction to the industry.
Changes had been made at a senior level and Mr Ármannsson had said that while it no longer represented a “strategic fit” for ISI, “the excellent facilities and strong management team in Grimsby can be a great addition to other companies in the sector”.
MAR Advisors had been appointed to help seal such a deal. It is thought unlikely to involve any of Grimsby's big three, with Young's Seafood, Hilton Seafood and New England Seafood International all having invested significantly recently in existing site expansion - unless work at a significant new level is in the offing.
Built by Five Star, headed by former Grimsby Town chairman John Fenty, the site emerged in the mid-Nineties and was significantly enhanced in the Noughties. successive buyers ran into trouble from a takeover in 2004, with 380 jobs lost in 2018 when Two Sisters pulled out.
Production facilities span 2,000 sq m, with a 5,000 pallet capacity coldstore.
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