Cooke Aquaculture has bought Scottish salmon supplier Meridian

The new Canadian owners of Scottish fish farm company Meridian have pledged to develop and grow the business as it looks to expand into Europe.

A £122.5m deal was finalised yesterday (14 May) for Cooke Aquaculture to acquire Meridian Salmon Farms from Norwegian fish processing giant Marine Harvest.

The company, which will be renamed Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, has salmon farming and hatchery operations in Shetland, Orkney, the Scottish mainland and south of the border in Cumbria.

UK retail customers of Meridian would benefit from “a stronger, more stable company”, said Cooke Aquaculture’s CEO Glenn Cooke, in addition to a strong marketing team, supply chain and a focus on delivering the freshest fish possible.

Meridian was established in 2011 after the merger of Northern Isles Salmon and The Lakeland Group. It farms and supplies a range of salmon products to the multiples, including organic and premium products.

Marine Harvest was forced to offload Meridian under EU competition rules after it acquired salmon processor Morpol in 2013.

The acquisition of Meridian strengthened Cooke Aquaculture’s “European foothold”, stated Cooke, with the firm also owning Culmarex, a sea bass and bream farming company in Spain.

He said Meridian was a “highly profitable and cost-effective producer with a dedicated management team and employee base”.

The New Brunswick-based company intended to “grow the Scottish business, and we see lots of opportunities for aquaculture as a way of feeding the world” Cooke said, with customer demand for its products “very strong”.

He added: “We are fortunate that there are many similarities between our corporate cultures and the high environmental standard of our farming operations.”

Management from both companies would work together to develop an operational and marketing strategy for the future, with Cooke adding it was “business as usual” for staff at Meridian.