Norwegian seafood business Mowi is partly blaming Covid-19 for a decision to close a French plant.

The company, formerly known as Marine Harvest, is to shut the Marine Harvest Kritsen (MHK) salmon processing plant at Châteaulin in Brittany. Some 26 employees are affected by the decision.

Mowi’s management announced the news to employee representatives on Monday (31 August) and employees were told of the decision the following day.

In a statement sent to just-food, Mowi partly blamed Covid-19 for its decision. It said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Marine Harvest Kritsen’s business plan for the year 2020, in a context already weakened by the destruction of the Landivisiau plant as a consequence of the fire of 11 July, 2018.

“The year 2020, which was a year of transition before the opening of the new factory in Landivisiau in 2021, is impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic leading to a sharp drop in orders, particularly from the out-of-home market. 

“These unfavourable market developments therefore require a reconsideration of the  organisation of MHK’s activities. These circumstances have led the company to consider transferring the Châteaulin activities to the new site in Landivisiau.” 

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By GlobalData

However, worker representatives speaking to the Ouest-France newspaper suggested the motivation for the closure was Mowi’s ambition to reduces its global workforce by 10%.

Mowi said it will offer jobs to Chateaulin-based employees at the new plant but the worker representatives told Ouest-France said that in some instances this could mean a daily commute of more than two hours even though the new plant is also in Brittany.

The new Landivisiau plant is expected to produce its first salmon products next year with an initial volume target of 2,000 tonnes per annum.

In 2014, MHK closed its factory in Poullaouen which employed nearly 180 permanent employees.