Cooke acquires Slade Gorton, expanding its position in US seafood importing, distribution sector

Cooke CEO Glenn Cooke and Slade Gorton CEO Kim Gorton.

Cooke Inc. has acquired Slade Gorton, one of the largest distributors, importers, and manufacturers of fresh and frozen seafood in the United States.

The binding purchase agreement was announced on the sidelines of the 2023 Seafood Expo North America on Tuesday, 14 March, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., near Slade Gorton’s headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Cooke said it is expected to close within weeks.

In its announcement, Cooke said Slade Gorton will continue to be led by its CEO, Kim Gorton, and its executive vice president of business development Mike Gorton Jr. – the third-generation leaders of the family that founded the company in 1928.

“Both remain in their roles and continue to be invested in the ongoing growth and success of the business,” Cooke said.

Slade Gorton has more than 800 seafood products in its catalog and “maintains longstanding partnerships with hundreds of leading North American foodservice and retail customers,” according to the release.

“Over nearly a century, Slade Gorton has built a robust and resilient world-class supply chain in support of our family’s passion for making sustainable seafood accessible to everyone,” Kim Gorton said. “As the world has evolved over the past several years, it became clear that to accelerate our mission and impact, it made sense to join forces with a diverse, vertically integrated company run by people who share our family values and vision for reshaping the consumer’s experience with seafood. There could be no better fit than Glenn Cooke and the incredible global company his team is building. We are excited to join forces with the Cooke family of companies to take the Gorton family’s legacy forward.”

Slade Gorton had around 100 employees in 2021, while Cooke has 4,000 employees globally through its fully vertically integrated seafood harvesting, processing, sales, and distribution network.

“Cooke and Slade Gorton share a passion for ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy delicious, nutritious and sustainable seafood whether dining at home or in a restaurant,” Cooke Inc. CEO Glenn Cooke said. “We will build on the expertise, innovation, and deep commitment to its customers’ success that Slade Gorton is so well-respected for. Working together with the True North Seafood sales team and leveraging Cooke’s global infrastructure and reach, we will help support our customers in increasing consumption of seafood in North America.”

Cooke has been one of the most-acquisitive seafood companies globally in recent years. It acquired Australian salmon-farming firm Tassal and Belgium-based shrimp processor Morubel in August 2022, and it was reported it is currently negotiating a majority stake in Nueva Pescanova.

Asked in March 2022 about his growth strategy, Cooke told SeafoodSource the company is “looking at seafood distribution or partnering and trying to get closer to those customers and retailers.”

“To make sure we get that last mile so that restaurant or that the retailer gets that product as fresh as possible, that's the goal and control that part of it. I don’t know whether we’ll buy UPS, but there are seafood distributors in the marketplace that are absolutely interesting to us,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Cooke Inc.


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