Young's Seafood: Sale speculation, strategy, and the US, China and Europe...

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 24 Jan 2018

YOUNG’S Seafood’s Stateside charm offensive is underway, as products hit thousands of stores across the US, with the company now seeking to emulate the model in the Far East.

Described as “bringing an authentic taste of British Chip Shop,”  the Grimsby-headquartered company is inspiring Americans to “re-think fish” with seven frozen fish dishes hitting stores in the US this week. 

As reported earlier this month, the partnership forged with Pennsylvania-based The Fishin’ Company has paved the way for the big splash, with China and Europe also being explored by the Ross House team.  

Further detail has been given as speculation continues into the potential sale of the business, with Princes’ Japanese owner, Mitsubishi Corporation, recently linked.

Chief executive Bill Showalter has also told how it would not “take a huge leap of faith” to expect the group’s backers to start looking at “strategic alternatives” in the near future, with a decade of ownership clocking up. 

Speaking to Press Association, he said: “We see China as a big opportunity. As we speak, we are exploring discussions with partners in that market and we would look to deploy a similar model to the one that we are using in the United States.

“Continental Europe is probably next on our list. When we sold our continental European business to Nomad Foods in November 2015 we committed to them to not sell frozen branded product into any of the markets where our Findus business had competed, but that prohibition expires in November. It would be our desire to look at opportunities in continental Europe once we are able to freely trade there.”

Read more: New operations director appointed at Young's Seafood

Young’s was bought by Lion Capital, Bain Capital and HPS Investment Partners (UK) from CapVest in 2008, as part of a £1.1 billion takeover that included the Findus brands.

Lion broke up the operation in 2015, striking a £500 million deal to sell the European arm of Findus to Birds Eye-owner Nomad, leaving it with the Young’s operation in the UK.

Asked about the future, Mr Showalter said: “I am not announcing any sales processes or reacting to some of the media speculation that has been out there, but I think it would not take a huge leap of faith for somebody to expect that at some point in the not too distant future the current owners of the company would look at what their strategic alternatives were.”

Back inthe States, and the range is now available nationwide at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Martin’s Foods, Stop & Shop, Giant and Peapod, with marketing material focusing on the British heritage, sustainability and content. 

Read more: Future of Food event back again for 2018

The Grimsby-produced range features Crispy Battered Cod Fillet & Chips, Wild Caught Cod Fillets in Beer Batter, Wild Caught Haddock Fillets in Crispy Batter, Flipper Dippers and Wild Caught Chunky Cod Sticks in light tempura batter.

International director Nick Munday said: “We’re rolling out seven, British-inspired, delicious fish dishes that we believe are better than anything on the market today. 

“With more fish, less salt, and less carbohydrates, we’re delivering something that’s been missing from the frozen fish aisles in the US and we believe shoppers will be surprised when they taste the difference.”

Described as great value with the whole range “coming in at less than $7” it is the first time American consumers will have had access to a brand of seafood with a 200 year heritage. 

“Young’s Seafood is the number one seafood brand in the UK, and let’s face it, they know a thing or two about fish and chips across the pond,” the release issued to US press added.

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