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March 5, 2009

UK: Uniq confirms sale of Pinneys

Struggling sandwich and ready meal maker Uniq has confirmed reports it is to sell-off underperforming Pinneys of Scotland.

Struggling sandwich and ready meal maker Uniq has confirmed reports it is to sell off its UK chilled fish business Pinneys.

The UK-based group said today (5 March) that it has reached an agreement with The Seafood Company for an initial GBP1m (US$1.4m) payable in cash on completion.

Uniq will now enter a period of consultation with its employees, which it is anticipated will be completed later this month. The company said that net proceeds from the sale, after costs, will be used to reduce bank borrowings.   

Based in Annan in Scotland, Pinneys employs around 600 people and has been making losses for the last four years. The business being sold made an operating loss of GBP1.1m in the year to 31 December 2007 and at that date had gross assets of GBP19.6m and net assets of GBP11m.

“We have been working hard over recent years to turn this business around, but have been severely hampered by the significant deterioration in the market,” said Geoff Eaton, chief executive of Uniq. “Given the other priorities within Uniq for investment, the board has concluded that Pinneys of Scotland can no longer be viewed as part of the long term strategic direction of the group. Finding a buyer is the best outcome for all parties.”

The acquisition will see the transfer of all Pinneys employees to The Seafood Company and will consolidate The Seafood Company’s position as the UK’s largest seafood firm.

Pete Ward, managing director of The Seafood Company, said: “This deal is great news for the 515-strong workforce, the local community and the wider seafood industry in Scotland.

“Through its proposed acquisition our market share will increase to around 40% of the chilled seafood sector in the UK and our annual purchase of fish in Scotland will rise to GBP125m.”

It is anticipated, subject to the satisfactory conclusion of the consultation process, that the sale will be completed this month.

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