Smales said its plant on Witty Street, Hull, may have to close

Smales said its plant on Witty Street, Hull, may have to close

F Smales & Son, a UK-based fish merchant and processor, said it may be forced to close its chilled seafood division after the loss of a "major" contract with an unnamed customer.

Should the plans go ahead, the family-owned company said 95 jobs will be lost at its facility in Witty Street located in the city of Hull in north-east England as the site also faces closure from the contract loss. Smales also put the development down to "vertical integration" in the seafood industry.

However, the company is re-evaluating its business strategy for its trading division, which supplies frozen fish and catering products – from pies to chicken nuggets and sausages - to fish and chip shops, wholesalers, foodservice outlets and "national accounts". Smales' chilled division generates 20% of its annual turnover, according to the firm.

just-food has contacted the company to try and ascertain where the business has been lost, although Smales noted in a statement announcing the closure that "there will be no further comments at this time". 

The trading division turns over some GBP70m (US$85m) in a sector that Smales said is still growing and therefore plans to "accelerate" opportunities in that area.  

It noted in the statement: "The company is in a strong and secure financial position moving forward. As such, F Smales & Son (Fish Merchants) Ltd. are re-evaluating business the strategy to potentially switch focus solely on the trading division."