SHETLAND’S major salmon producer enjoyed a huge rise in profits last year thanks to a combination of steady high prices and improvements in the way it produces the farmed fish.
Grieg Seafood Hjaltland saw its pre-tax profits jump from £148,161 in 2013 to £5.2 million last year, accounts filed with Companies House show.
The firm – which employs around 175 people between its numerous farms and factory – enjoyed a “significant improvement both in terms of results and biological situation” thanks to a “turnaround plan” put in place in early 2013.
Regional director Sigurd Pettersen said the generation of fish that began being harvested last August “came out very nicely” after the company changed its feeding strategy and “pretty much the whole concept” of production.
“It was a year when we had acceptable costs and acceptable prices, and both those two things have to come together,” he told Shetland News. “We did a few changes in production last year, getting the costs down.
“We harvested close to 19,000 tonnes and prices, especially around Christmas and most of the autumn, were quite good.”
The Aberdeen-registered company, which is owned by Norwegian giant Grieg Seafood, grew its turnover by over a third to £81.6 million and high prices saw its operating profit more than double from £3.4 million in 2013 to £7.8 million.
As part of a restructure Grieg’s subsidiary Hjaltland Seafarms changed its name to Grieg Seafood Shetland.
A paper accounting change also saw two other subsidiaries – harvesting and packaging factory Lerwick Fish Traders (LFT) and Hjaltland Hatcheries – subsumed within Grieg Seafood. Pettersen said both the factory and hatchery were already “integrated” parts of the business.
Back in June Grieg Seafood Hjaltland opened a £15 million new high-tech hatchery that will produce a total of five million smolts (juvenile salmon) a year in full production.
It is part of efforts to make the Shetland salmon industry more self-sufficient despite its relative lack of fresh water supplies, as well as reducing the carbon footprint by reducing the need to transport salmon by boat from the Scottish mainland.
In the Companies House report, Grieg Seafood Hjaltland said its priority was to continue introducing measures that could further reduce its production costs.