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Deal With Rival Saves Dawnfresh Jobs in Arbroath

Scottish seafood producer Dawnfresh – a major Angus employer – has been placed into administration.

Workers at its sites in Arbroath, where almost 250 staff are employed, and its site in Uddingston were told the news on Tuesday morning.

Tom MacLennan, Callum Carmichael and Michelle Elliot, partners with FRP Advisory, have been appointed joint administrators.

The administrators have secured the sale of the Arbroath facility to Lossie Seafoods Ltd, a subsidiary of Associated Seafoods Limited.

The deal that means all 249 Arbroath staff will transfer to the new owners.

The Uddingston facility will close with immediate effect, resulting in 200 redundancies.

A total of 77 staff will be retained to assist administrators in the winding-up process.

Central Scotland Labour MSP Monica Lennon said she offered her “full support and solidarity” to workers affected.

The assets of the Uddingston site, which includes the land, buildings and plant, will be marketed for sale and interested parties should contact FRP Advisory.

Dawnfresh owns the historic brand RR Spink, which has operated from Arbroath since 1715.

The majority of its work is processing and packaging seafood for supermarkets.

Dawnfresh is one of the UK’s largest producers of fish and seafood. It produces 10,000 tonnes of seafood a year across 350 product lines.

It manages a number of farming sites across Scotland and exports around the world.

In its most recently filed accounts, for the year ending March 29 2020, Dawnfresh Holdings showed a pre-tax loss of £5.8m and a turnover of £72.4m.

The company has lost money in each of the last 16 years. The cumulative pre-tax losses total more than £80m.

Last year, Dawnfresh announced plans to move to one production site by the middle of this year.

It planned to close its base in Uddingston and relocate employees to Arbroath.

It acquired the former Perimax building next door to its site at Kirkton Industrial Estate and had planned to make a £5 million investment in the expansion.

Tom MacLennan, Callum Carmichael and Michelle Elliot, partners with FRP Advisory, have been appointed joint administrators.

Mr Carmichael said: “Dawnfresh is a high profile and highly regarded seafood business with a long tradition of supplying innovative products to a blue-chip customer base.

“Unfortunately, the business has been unable to overcome very serious financial problems at the Uddingston facility.

“We are pleased to have secured a prompt sale of the Arbroath facility in a deal that will also preserve substantial employment in the town.

“Our focus is now on finding a buyer for the farming business whilst also realising as much value as possible from the other assets for the benefit of creditors.”

The subsidiary business Dawnfresh Farming Ltd will continue trading solvently.

The business is being marketed for sale and interested parties should contact FRP Advisory as soon as possible.

The acquisition of R R Spink by Buckie-based Associated Seafoods Ltd (ASL) is a “major boost” for Arbroath.

That is according to ASL managing director Victor West.

He said: “Both businesses are major suppliers to Marks & Spencer, who are delighted that their two key suppliers of ready-to-eat seafood are joining ranks.

“We are thrilled that the Arbroath site will become part of our group, which will significantly expand our production capability in both volume and range.

“The Arbroath and Buckie sites share the same passion for seafood.

“My team and I very much look forward to working in both locations with our enlarged ASL family.”

North East region Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “Dawnfresh is a large employer in Arbroath with a 50-year history as a major UK business.

“Takeovers and the administration process are always worrying for employees.

“It is good the new owner holds RR Spink and the Angus operation in such high regard.

“Although the Uddingston plant was already scheduled to close, this sudden change will put livelihoods at risk.

“My thoughts are with those affected.

“I’ll meet Associated Seafoods to see what the prospects are for existing staff in Arbroath.”

He also said he’d find out whether the proposed expansion will still go ahead.

Scottish Labour MSP for North East Scotland Michael Marra said he would also be seeking a meeting with the Arbroath site’s new owners.

He tweeted “I am seeking an update from the Arbroath site’s new owners that these jobs are safe in the long term, along with more information about their plans for their site and the business.

“My thoughts are with those in Uddingston at this difficult time for them and their families.”

An Angus Council spokesman said: “We are very pleased to learn that the future of the Arbroath plant and its workforce has been secured.

“These are important and greatly-valued local jobs and we are reassured by the new owner’s positive outlook for the Angus-based facility having previously provided our support to Dawnfresh.

“We do of course have great sympathy for those workers in Uddingston who have received far less positive news today.

“We hope that they receive the required support moving forward.”

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