Top Grimsby seafood processor bought out by Japanese giant

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 1 May 2019

Grimsby’s exemplar seafood business, Flatfish, has been bought out in a multi-million pound deal by a Japanese giant already present in the town's super cluster.

Nissui’s European arm has swooped for a 75 per cent stake in the 40 year old processor, which was founded by current chief executive and major shareholder Steven Stansfield.

The company bought out Sealord in March 2017, taking on the huge Caistor site and smoking facilities in Riby Street.

The undisclosed deal completed late yesterday, Tuesday, April 30, as global headlines were made as Crown Prince Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne as the new emperor.

In Grimsby Flatfish welcomed three Japanese nationals to its board - Nissui Europe's Holland-based chief executive Terutaka Kuraishi, a former Sealord employee; Ken Yokoi, also a director at Caistor Seafoods Ltd, and Hisami Sakai.

Flatfish has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Caistor team, with both having supplied high end retailer Waitrose. It has recently won significantly more work with the supermarket, which enjoys a strong overtrade in seafood.

In a joint statement, Mr Stansfield and Mr Kuraishi, said: “Flatfish Ltd is an award winning primary processor committed to sourcing from sustainable resources using socially responsible fishing methods. 

“The company is passionate about promoting British fish and has customers in both the retail and foodservice sectors in the UK.

“The acquisition fits with Nissui’s strategy to strengthen its seafood supply chain in the UK following its acquisition of Sealord Caistor in 2017.

Through this acquisition Nissui will further enhance synergies within its European operations in conjunction with Cite Marine and Nordic Seafood.”

Renowned for its quality, the Stirling Street business - developed from a former bakery to state-of-the-art fish processing facility as Mr Stansfield ramped up operations from a former pontoon stall launched in 1979 - it has been named as Fish Processor of the Year twice in the past three years by Fishing News Awards, and is the current holder of the accolade.

Heavy investment in both people and the latest technology has regularly been praised, with it named as one of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain in 2016 by the London Stock Exchange.

Mr Sakai, Mr Kuraishi and Mr Yokoi join Mr Stansfield, brother Richard and son Reece at the top table, as well as French national Daniel Gallou and Peter Williams.

The business has also extended its financial year accounting period from September 30 to the end of 2019. 

It turned over £12.7 million in the last filed accounts, relating to its year ending in October 2017. 

The move has seen Peter Stokes and Nigel Clarke step down from the board, having served for a combined 37 years. 

Simon Dwyer, a leading figure on cluster organisation Seafood Grimsby & Humber, welcomed the activity.

The secretariat of Grimsby Fish Merchants' Association said: "It is very interesting, and good news that Nissui is increasing its footprint in the Grimsby area. It is testament to the cluster that they want to invest and shows faith in the town, and more so, in what has been a very well-run family business."

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