Hundreds of jobs have been lost in South Lanarkshire after one of the UK’s largest producers and processors of fish and seafood entered administration.
Some 200 redundancies have been made at Dawnfresh Seafoods in Uddingston, with workers being turned away as they turned up to start their shifts on Tuesday morning.
Tom MacLennan, Callum Carmichael and Michelle Elliot, partners with FRP Advisory, have been appointed joint administrators.
Dawnfresh owns the historic smoked salmon brand RR Spink, which has operated from Arbroath since 1715.
The administrators have secured the sale of the Arbroath facility to Lossie Seafoods Ltd, a subsidiary of Associated Seafoods Limited (ASL) – meaning all 249 Arbroath staff will transfer to the new owners.
But the facility in Uddingston is closing with immediate effect.
Callum Carmichael, partner with FRP 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, but 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.”
Founded in 1973, Dawnfresh operates seven fish farms across Northern Ireland and Scotland with production and processing facilities in Uddingston and Arbroath.
In recent years, the firm had started a programme of extensive investment to upgrade its plant and systems and reduce costs, administrators said.
But the business continued to suffer from rising costs, overcapacity at the Uddingston site and cash flow problems.
FRP Advisory says 77 staff in Uddingston are being retained to assist the joint administrators with the winding up process. Meanwhile, the assets of the Uddingston site, which includes the land, buildings and plant, will be marketed for sale.
Mark McHugh, Scottish organiser at the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, said: “We are disgusted at this decision by Dawnfresh. The workers at Uddingston have cooperated with the company all the way through the consultation process and went beyond the call of duty to maintain quality and production during the recent, busy festive period.
“What they have received in return is a litany of lies and broken promises. This business provided valuable jobs and could have been saved.
“The wellbeing of 200 loyal staff, their families and the local community has been disregarded at the whim of one man. The Scottish Government cannot sit idly by here. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the minister so that we can explore all options to help the workers at Uddingston.”
Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said she will be raising the issue of job losses at the Scottish Parliament.
She tweeted: “I am hearing worrying news this morning from the Dawnfresh site. I have reached out to union officials and offer my full support and solidarity to the workers.
“I will be raising questions in the Scottish Parliament to make sure everything possible is done to protect jobs and workers.
“The Dawnfresh workers have been let down before and they need our support.”
“I am aware that one party has expressed an interest and made an offer, to take over the site and save all the jobs.”Stephanie Callaghan, SNP MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill
Stephanie Callaghan, SNP MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill, said she was “bitterly disappointed” at the news.
She said: “As the MSP for the Uddingston and Bellshill constituency, I have been working to facilitate dialogue and encourage interested parties to come forward.
“I am aware that one party has expressed an interest and made an offer, to take over the site and save all the jobs. I will continue to work proactively with others to fight for those affected by this closure and support a successful takeover of this crucial operation.”
Dawnfresh announced in September last year it would spend £5m expanding the Arbroath site, which will now operate alongside ASL’s Buckie processing facility.
Victor West, managing director of ASL, said: “This acquisition is a major boost for Arbroath and the town’s long held fish processing tradition. 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, and my team and I very much look forward to working in both locations with our enlarged ASL ‘family’.”