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Investment boost for Loch Fyne Oysters

20 February 2012

Scottish seafood business Loch Fyne Oysters says it has secured significant investment which will allow it to capitalise on its brand and penetrate new export markets

The deal provides the resources and partnership expertise for the company to ultimately achieve 50% of sales from outside the UK within five years, as well as introduce innovative methods of sustainable aquaculture across its operations.

The management of the business will remain with the existing team, whilst ownership of the company will now be transferred to Scottish Seafood Investments (SSI). As part of this partnership, Loch Fyne Oysters will remain based in Argyll and all 105 jobs in the company are unaffected.

Bruce Davidson, Managing Director of Loch Fyne Oysters, has heralded the move as a new chapter in the company’s history which will see the business move to the next level. He said: “This is an endorsement of the success story that is Loch Fyne Oysters. SSI has provided us with the investment we need to grow our business, while ensuring we maintain our independence.

“This exciting new partnership presents some great opportunities, allowing us to increase capacity and work together on the growth of our international business, taking the Loch Fyne brand to the market in the most effective way.

“With SSI’s investment and continued financial support we are not only better able to withstand current economic pressures but also look to the future. I believe that we can now really do the brand justice and look realistically at expanding into new export markets and growing.

“Loch Fyne Oysters’ staff, suppliers and stakeholders can now look forward to the future with real hope and excitement.”

Loch Fyne Oysters was set up in 1978 by entrepreneurs Johnny Noble and Andy Lane. The company was moved into employee-ownership in 2003, following Johnny Noble’s death, to give the company stability and to ensure that its future remained based in Argyll.

However, in this form, while it doubled in size, Loch Fyne Oysters has not been able to secure external investment needed to take it to the next level. The initial investment will clear the company’s current liabilities and allow it to plan for growth. Further resources will be made available to develop capacity.

Jane MacLeod, chairman of Loch Fyne Oysters’ employee-benefit trust, will sit on the board as an advisor in the initial months of the partnership welcomes the investment. She said: “This investment has come at a fantastic time for the company, and we can look forward to what lies ahead for the business.”

SSI is a joint venture between private equity investor Northern Link Ltd and The Scottish Salmon Company plc, formed in 2011 to invest in Scottish aquaculture companies with growth potential. Its first investment was Associated Seafoods Limited.

Campbell Shirlaw, Director at the Scottish Salmon Company plc and now Chairman of Loch Fyne Oysters, said: “Loch Fyne is an iconic Scottish brand and we are pleased and proud to invest in it. SSI’s investment will allow the Loch Fyne Oysters’ team to grow the business and realise its true potential.

“We also believe that there will be huge benefits from building on the long-term Loch Fyne relationship that exists between Loch Fyne Oysters and The Scottish Salmon Company and welcome the opportunity to develop what we believe can be a very strong partnership bringing both sides of this world-famous loch together. As close neighbours, local provenance is extremely important to both companies and their shared views on development internationally provide a firm basis for the future.”

Loch Fyne Oysters which farms oysters, mussels and operates a smokery from its site at Cairndow at the head of Loch Fyne, is already working in partnership with SSI. Both organisations want to build a business on a sustainable cycle of mutually dependent growth crops and David Attwood, Loch Fyne Oysters’ Aquaculture Director has been developing an investment plan with SSI to grow capacity of salmon, oysters, mussels, sea urchins and seaweed in Loch Fyne.

He said: “This is a great opportunity to develop a business in Argyll that will be totally sustainable, both environmentally and commercially. Loch Fyne Oysters, as it was, would never have found the resources needed for such an investment and I am very excited to be involved in this initiative on Loch Fyne with SSI.

“In these challenging economic times, it is a great testament to SSI’s belief in the Loch Fyne brand that it is prepared to make this substantial long-term investment in Argyll.”

Simon Briggs, Sales Director at Loch Fyne Oysters, concluded: “I can already see real benefits to having such an integrated approach. Working with our new partners, there are huge opportunities for us in both the fresh and smoked fish categories.”

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