Mowi Scotland buys Wester Ross
Mowi Scotland Limited has purchased a controlling stake in Wester Ross Fisheries, the last independently-owned salmon farming company in Scotland.
The purchase was revealed in a notice posted to the U.K. Companies House website, indicating that Mowi Scotland now has a more than 75 percent stake in Wester Ross. Another notice indicated that James “Gilpin” Bradley has “ceased to be a person with significant control.”
Wester Ross has been an independently-owned salmon farm since its founding in 1977. The company distinguished itself through its operating practices, which focused on premium products and includes a zero-handling policy, a prohibition on the use of antibiotics, and a slower growth cycle.
“Our marketing approach, and our objective, is to ensure that people eating our salmon, either retail or [sitting] down at a restaurant table, they must know it’s our salmon,” Bradley said during the 2022 Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona, Spain. “Branding underpins our whole marketing approach.”
Bradley told SeafoodSource in April the company was at a point where it would need to grow.
“We can’t stay the size we are. We have to grow. External investment or some other route, we have to grow. We can’t stand still,” Bradley said.
Demand for Wester Ross salmon has been high over the past year, Bradley said, and and he hinted that the company was interested in reasonable offers for its ownership.
“We’re always considering offers. However, any offer that we consider, we would have to ensure that our operating practices that support our unique brand would be protected. Irrespective of who owned us, we would always strive for our unique position, and that may well end up being within a far larger business,” Bradley said during Seafood Expo Global – just months before the Mowi purchase.
The company’s latest financial statement, covering the year ending 31 December, 2020, indicated it was in a sound financial state. Operating profits for the year had increased 19 percent over 2019 and the group's assets improved GBP 1.8 million (USD 2.14 million, EUR 2.1 million), or 22 percent, over the previous year.
The company’s overall revenue had dipped slightly, from GBP 17.3 million (USD 20.6 million, EUR 20.2 million) to GBP 16.2 million (USD 19.3 million, EUR 18.9 million), but its gross profits increased from GBP 4.4 million (USD 5.2 million, EUR 5.1 million) to GBP 4.9 million (USD 5.8 million, EUR 5.7 million).
The terms of Mowi’s purchase of Wester Ross were not disclosed. A Mowi spokesperson told SeafoodSource that the company had no official statement on the purchase.
Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource