50 jobs boost at Albert Darnell as Asda contract confirmed for New England

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 22 Jun 2018

A total of 50 jobs will be created in Grimsby by New England Seafood International as a result of it winning the Asda contract for cod and haddock processing.

Having once completed work for Grimsby giant Young’s, it is now in direct competition, and picked up the large element of the £30 million contracts lost this week by the Ross House team, with prawns for the supermarket chain heading to Wiltshire. 

Confirming the work will go to Albert Darnell on Europarc, the business bought back in 2016, Dan Aherne, chief executive, said: “It is coming to Grimsby, and to some extent with Grimsby gaining this contract and with the salmon coming down from Scotland to Young’s, Grimsby is having a reasonable time as far as we can see.

“The message from our site is that we are continuing to invest in the Albert Darnell business that we bought, there is real expertise in white fish procurement and processing and we are building on that. We will be strengthening the team and investing further in the factory to support the on-boarding of this. I think the estimate for it is 50, it could easily be 50 new jobs.”

One senior figure already lined up is buying executive Dominic Collins, pictured left, who will arrive from Young’s ahead of the work which is set to commence in January 2019. He joined the Ross House team from what was then Coldwater Seafood, now part of Seachill. 

Albert Darnell's purpose-built site currently employs 100, sitting in the midst of the business park, immediately across from the Morrisons flagship plant and by Humber Seafood Institute. Mr Aherne said a lot of work had gone into being able to bid at this level.

“The integration and building the retail capability of the site has gone extremely well, there is a really professional attitude about anything we have moved or introduced to the site, the team has done an excellent job,” he said.

When bought, the business owned by Grimsby FMA chairman Mike Woods, was third-party processing for both Young’s and Morrisons, but weakening market conditions and the emergence of the latter on the same business park, saw that work lost.

“The foodservice business has been tough, the market is heavily competitive, and volumes have been softer,” Mr Aherne said. “When we bought it, Young’s and Morrisons were two of the biggest customers, but with the businesses having surplus capacity, they took it in-house.  

“That caused some pain for the site in terms of volume, but we have played the long game, as we always knew there would be some good results. There is often a lag between the great work and performance. This now feels like a really good result.”

MORE: Icelandic quota joy for Grimsby seafood sector

Young's is completing a consultation with a large team in Scotland as it prepares to close a factory there and relocate the work to Grimsby, as referenced by Mr Aherne.It was announced as it picked up the Marks and Spencer contracts from closure-threatened Five Star Fish.

The impact on job creation as part of those moves will now be assessed, with the purchase of a neighbouring Grimsby plant to its Humberstone Road site on Ladysmith Road - the former XPO Logistics facility - also understood to be close to completing.

A total of 200 new jobs had initially been identified by the business, itself currently being marketed for sale by the equity fund consortium of owners.

A spokesperson for Young's Seafood said: “While we’re naturally disappointed to not have retained this business, Asda remains an important customer for Young’s where we will continue to work together across several categories to deliver great fish and seafood products for their customers.

“Our existing relationships with multiple retailers and our recent natural whitefish, salmon and coated fish contract wins demonstrate our ongoing expertise and leadership in own-label and our ability to retain and grow business.”

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