Cooke Aquaculture closing St. Mary’s River Smokehouses; plans to add 100 jobs in New Brunswick

Published on
May 25, 2018

Cooke Aquaculture announced on 24 May that the company would be closing production of smoked salmon at its St. Mary’s River Smokehouses on 22 June. 

Cooke acquired St. Mary’s in October 2017. The company – located in Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia, Canada – was founded in 1996 and produces varieties of cold- and oven-smoked salmon. Cooke attributed the closure to being able to increase efficiencies by moving production to its Atlantic Fish Specialties Ltd. Facilities in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Canada. 

“The opportunity for increased operational efficiencies and utilizing more modern equipment at the PEI facility are the primary reasons for this transition,” Cooke said.

While the production facility will close, the St. Mary's brand will continue, according to the company.

The 18 employees at St. Mary’s will be given the opportunity to transition into employment with Cooke Aquaculture, according to the statement. 

“We are very appreciative and thankful for our dedicated employees and the community of Sherbrooke and municipality of the District of St. Mary's. We are working with them to make this transition as smooth as possible and we are offering employment in other divisions of our company,” Cooke Aquaculture CEO Glenn Cooke said.

Cooke Aquaculture also plans to add up to 100 jobs in the New Brunswick area. A press release by Opportunities New Brunswick on 17 May announced that the company will receive support from the provincial government to add the jobs over the next five years. 

“Your government’s multi-year economic growth plan is focused on investing to help New Brunswick-based businesses to compete in markets around the world,” Premier Brian Gallant said. “Cooke Aquaculture is a great example of how New Brunswick’s workforce and know-how can help businesses grow from right here in New Brunswick.”

According to Cooke, the new jobs are expected to be marine site workers, technicians, managers, logistics experts, and truck drivers. 

“It is a tribute to the success of our recent acquisitions that we are able to continue to create new jobs here in New Brunswick,” Glenn Cooke said. “Opportunities NB and the Government of New Brunswick remain outstanding partners for us as we continue to grow. These new employees are needed to help us reach our latest growth targets and we are very pleased to be able to add so many of them as part of our operations in rural New Brunswick.”

The company is eligible for up to CAD 1.9 million (USD 1.5 million, EUR 1.2 million) in investment from Opportunities NB, which is a government-run corporation supporting the local economy and job growth. Up to CAD 990,000 (USD 762,000, EUR 654,000) of the funding is from payroll rebates, which according to Opportunities NB is performance-based and can only be disbursed to Cooke once the company has created and maintained the jobs for at least a year. 

Opportunities NB estimates that the 100 jobs will contribute CAD 25 million (USD 19.2 million, EUR 16.5 million) to the local economy over five years and CAD 80 million (USD 61.6 million, EUR 52.8 million) to New Brunswick’s GDP.  

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