Thistle Seafood

Thistle Seafood processes coated fish products, fishcakes and value-added products, as well as branded range Reel & Cleaver, at its Peterhead facility

Scottish seafood processor Thistle Seafoods has snapped up a facility from the administrators of Dawnfresh in a deal saving 40 jobs.

Thistle plans to develop the 100,000 sq ft site in Uddingston in South Lanarkshire into an advanced added-value seafood processing and distribution centre for retail and wholesale customers in the UK and overseas.

Uddingston was closed in March as former owner Dawnfresh collapsed, with 200 staff made redundant as administrators from FRP Advisory began a process to find a buyer for the numerous assets of the group.

The site was heavily lossmaking and operating with excess capacity, the administrators said at the time.

The sale, for an undisclosed amount, sees the immediate transfer of 40 employees - retained to help FRP with the winding-up process - to Thistle Seafoods.

The new Uddingston facility will complement the processing facilities in Peterhead, where Thistle produces a line up of coated fish products, fishcakes and value-added products, as well as branded range Reel & Cleaver.

Thistle pushed revenues above £100m in 2020 despite the outbreak of Covid affecting its foodservice operation as the company expanded its export markets, according to the most recent set of Companies House accounts.

MD Ryan Scatterty said the acquisition of the Dawnfresh Uddingston facility was “an ideal fit” for the business, providing a strategic processing, storage and distribution hub with ready access to key transport networks to better serve domestic customers.

“It will also allow us to further expand our product offering and capitalise on our fast-growing export markets,” he added. “We are delighted to welcome an extra 40 staff to our business and plan to recruit further this year as we build our business.”

Dawnfresh was one of the UK’s largest producers and processors of fish and seafood when it collapsed on 28 February.

The business was forced into administration after struggling with rising costs and unsustainable cashflow problems, FRP said at the time.

Its Arbroath facility was sold by administrators to Scottish smoked salmon producer Lossie Seafoods, saving 249 jobs.

Subsidiary business Dawnfresh Farming Ltd, which operates seven fish farms in Northern Ireland and Scotland, continues to trade solvently and will be formally marketed for sale by FRP in the coming months.