Jim Gallagher: ‘starting to see a nice bounce’ (pic: SSF)
Scottish Sea Farms is the latest to declare that it will repay all the money it has received from the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The salmon farmer said business performance is recovering it and will not be making any further claims from the taxpayer.
The company has received £106,000 since March after it furloughed 36 full-time and part-time staff – 8% of its 451-strong workforce – until the end of June.
Games Workshop and the Spectator magazine have also said they will repay the UK government.
Ikea has said it is planning to repay salaries paid by governments around the world under furlough schemes. However, it does not include the UK. Although the furniture chain furloughed 10,000 UK workers it did not claim back their salaries from the government.
SSF managing director Jim Gallagher said: “Both the UK and Scottish Governments were quick to identify food producers as being key to the nation’s resilience during the Covid-19 crisis, so we have worked hard to put in place the protective measures necessary to enable us to operate safely and at near full capacity to help keep supplies of fresh farmed salmon flowing.
“However, for a small percentage of our staff, Covid-19 brought the need to shield, whether for their own protection or that of their loved ones. For others, it has required them to provide full-time care to their children who would otherwise be at nursery or school, making working impossible and furloughing the most practical option.”
The furloughed staff have received 100% of their basic pay; 80% through from the Job Retention Scheme and the remaining 20% from SSF, the company stated in a press release.
Mr Gallagher added: “It was hugely important to us that these employees weren’t disadvantaged due to personal circumstances. The Job Retention Scheme has helped ensure they could take the time needed to care for themselves and their families.
“Trading has been exceptionally tough these last few months. On the one hand, panic-buying led to an initial bounce in domestic sales.
“On the other, our export markets all but closed, resulting in reduced sales, increased freight and operating costs, and significantly reduced profits.
“Now, we’re starting to see a nice bounce in several of these same markets: France, Italy, Spain, Germany and even the Far East are all open again. There’s a long way to go but the business is in profit and as such we feel the money received via the Job Retention Scheme would be better served invested in the country’s essential services and recovery.”
SSF said repaying the furlough support received is just one of the ways it hopes to contribute to Scotland’s renewal and recovery.
Mr Gallagher said: “We’re opening new farms and working steadily to increase the number of fish grown, we’re committed to continuing our investment in our farming infrastructure and approaches, and we’ll place much of this investment with the local supply chain – all of which will translate into more well-paid, highly-skilled jobs and additional revenue, both for the Scottish economy at large and the many remote and rural communities in which we work.”