Hopes of a swift deal to save nearly 200 seafood jobs in Grimsby have been dealt a rapid blow.
A week on from a letter of intent being signed for the sale of Iceland Seafood UK, negotiations with the unnamed entity have failed. Parent company Iceland Seafood International will now revert back to “communication with other interested parties,” it has said in a statement to investors.
As reported, the decision to exit the UK market was made in Reykjavik after losses of £12 million were revealed. It was launched at the huge former Five Star Fish premises on Great Grimsby Business Park, just as Covid-19 hit UK shores. ISI united an existing West Yorkshire operation with the neighbouring Havelok business, bringing back to use the heavily invested 100,000 sq ft plant last operated in 2018 by Two Sisters.
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In a statement, the company said that “negotiations that were based on the letter of intent were not successful and have been cancelled”.
It continued: “Iceland Seafood will now be in communication with other interested parties and will provide information as appropriate if any of these communications will develop to a formal discussion.”
As reported in August, ISI had told how the plant was taking longer to break even than anticipated . November saw further losses of £8 million revealed for the first nine months of the year.
At the time, group chief executive Bjarni Ármannsson said: “Iceland Seafood UK invested in operating facilities in Grimsby and merged its operations from Bradford and Grimsby into this location. The investment and decision of the merger was completed in March 2020 , just before Covid-19 started, and the renovation and installation of the factory was very much affected by Covid and later Brexit along with difficulties in overall operations.
“Iceland Seafood has now decided that it plans to exit this market from a value-added perspective and has mandated MAR Advisors to support the process.
“Although it has been concluded that the UK operation is not a strategic fit for Iceland Seafood anymore, the excellent facilities and strong management team in Grimsby can be a great addition to other companies in the sector.
"We have started a sales process and will report as soon as we can on what comes of that."
It had been suggested in the trade press that North West-based Sykes Seafood was the interested party, a highly acquisitive prawn specialist that has branched out into whitefish. Management had not responded to enquiries last week.
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