Whitby jumbo scampi

Strong sales growth from both branded and own label helped Whitby Seafoods boost turnover by almost £10m last year, while profit after tax rose by £500,000 to £1.17m.

Sales for the 12 months to 31 December 2016 rose from £40.6m to £50.3m, according to the processor’s yearly accounts, while EBITDA rose from £2.2m to £3.3m.

The company’s improved performance was driven by gaining business from competitors in both retail and foodservice product sectors, and from improved efficiencies after a £302,000 restructuring of operating facilities.

These results confirmed Whitby Seafoods’ position as the market leader in breaded scampi, with about 8,000 tonnes of product including coated scampi, goujons and prawns being sold in 2016, the supplier said.

“It’s been an exciting and exceptionally busy period which has continued into 2017,” said Whitby Seafoods MD Daniel Whittle. “We’ve seen growth in both own label, branded, and in retail and foodservice,” he added, while noting the brand’s success stemmed back to a major rebranding in 2014.

“It definitely helps us stand out on shelf and be recognised as the type of company we are; which is an independent family-owned supplier which does things differently to the larger corporates, who due to the fact they are private equity-owned, have less soul,” he told The Grocer.

The Whitby branded range was now stocked nationally in Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, and Morrisons, among other retailers, Whittle added.

It has also added a number of new seafood lines to its range in the past year, including jumbo scampi, calamari and MSC-certified cod goujons. It is set to announce further product launches later this year, including a major new supermarket listing for three new products.

The supplier, established in 1985 by Whittle’s father Graham, employs about 400 staff at sites in Whitby and Kilkeel in Northern Ireland.

It had so far emerged relatively unaffected by Brexit-induced currency fluctuation and concerns over the UK’s post-Brexit fishing rights, Whittle added.

“We’re fortunate that we’re quite different from a lot of UK seafood players who buy a lot of product in dollars or euros, as scampi is largely bought and sold in pounds,” he said. “There has been less impact [on scampi]. We’ve seen a bit of volatility on whole prawn but I feel fortunate we are better protected than others that are more reliant on imports.”