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Food firms join forces for expansion

Macduff Shellfish sold to Canadians for £98m

Euan Beaton Roy CunninghamMacduff Shellfish Group, one of Europe’s leading wild caught shellfish processors, has been sold to Canadian-based Clearwater Seafoods in a £98.4m deal.

Current owners, the Beaton family and Change Capital Partners, the specialist pan-European private equity fund, say the deal will introduce new capital to fund expansion.

Based in Mintlaw, near Peterhead, Macduff has factories in Mintlaw, Stornoway and Exeter and owns and operates 14 mid-shore scallop harvesting vessels from its Dumfries facility.  It employs 400 people at the seasonal peak.

Nova Scotia-based Clearwater is one of North America’s largest vertically integrated seafood companies and has 1,400 employees.

The deal brings Macduff access to new markets, investment and opportunities for growth.  For Clearwater, the acquisition of Macduff provides access to market leading supply in key markets.

Macduff will retain its name and operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Clearwater, sharing resources and best practice.

Current chairman Euan Beaton will become president of Macduff, while managing director Roy Cunningham, will assume the role of vice president.

Mr Beaton, said: “Having reached our goal of building a £52m business, we had one suitor in mind which shares our vision and values to enable us to accelerate our growth on a global scale.

“With a similar vertically integrated business model, sustainability at its heart, sound employee practices and strong relationships with fishermen but operating on a much bigger scale, Clearwater is an ideal fit for Macduff.

“This deal is great news for our operations in the UK, bringing investment and access to new markets within an extremely successful and respected business.  It provides learning and development opportunities for our staff as we share best practice with Clearwater and it gives fishermen access to more markets.’

Ian Smith, chief executive of Clearwater said, “The acquisition of Macduff brings together two of the world’s leading and fastest growing vertically integrated wild shellfish harvesters.

“The transaction will allow Clearwater to integrate its vessel management and sustainable harvesting practices, innovative processing technologies along with its global sales, marketing and distribution footprint into Macduff; a company that already possesses a talented management team, excellent resource assets and a strong presence in Europe, the world’s largest and most valuable seafood market.

“Our companies have been building a working relationship for more than three years and we are confident Macduff represents a highly attractive investment with a strong strategic fit for Clearwater.”

Steven Petrow, partner at Change Capital Partners, said: “When we invested in Macduff in 2011 there was a compelling opportunity to transform the business through international expansion and strategic acquisitions.

“Thanks to our highly successful partnership with the Beaton family and Management we have delivered on all fronts and are incredibly proud of Macduff’s achievements.  This has been a very successful investment and we are convinced that the next chapter in the company’s history will be very exciting.”

Macduff was advised by Burness Paul, KPMG and Anderson Anderson & Brown.

Photo: Euan Beaton and Roy Cunningham

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