New Zealand's Sanford reports on-board death, releases 2018 financials

The crewmember who died aboard a deepwater factory vessel belonging to New Zealand-based seafood supplier Sanford on Wednesday, 14 November, has been identified as Steffan Antony Stewart by police, according to a recent report from news website Stuff.

Initial police reports said Stewart, 26, suffered a fatal injury aboard the Sanford vessel San Granit in the early morning hours. The incident is currently being investigated by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC), Stuff reported.

"We are sad to advise the tragic death of one of our crew members on our deepwater factory vessel, the San Granit, earlier today," Sanford said in an official statement issued on Wednesday. "Our thoughts are with the family, friends, and workmates of our team member as they are dealing with this terrible incident."

Stewart’s passing occurred one day prior to Sanford releasing its annual earnings report, which showed a net profit after tax for the company of NZD 42.3 million (USD 28.9 million, EUR 25.4 million), a 12.9 percent improvement over 2017. Sanford also saw its adjusted earnings before interest and tax (adjusted EBIT) increase by 1.5 percent to NZD 64.7 million (USD 44.3 million, EUR 38.8 million) in 2018.

Increases in 2018 were due in part to “non-trading items and, in particular, the insurance settlement relating to the Kaikōura earthquake damage caused to our Havelock mussel processing facility," Sanford said in its report. 

While the report contains several highlights, Sanford spokeswoman Fiona MacMillan said it comes at an “incredibly sad time” for the company in the wake of Stewart’s death.

"As this report is released, we are deeply saddened by the death of one of our crew members on the fishing vessel the San Granit," MacMillan said.

Sanford reported that its sales received a 7.7 percent boost to NZD 515 million (USD 352.7 million, EUR 309 million) for the past 12 months ending in September, courtesy of increased prices, mostly for fresh hoki. Company CEO Volker Kuntzsch also noted that the impact of climate change is being felt now more than ever, with “abnormally high water temperatures during the summer resulting in challenges across the aquaculture and fishing divisions.” 

“Volumes were down in salmon, mussels and wildcatch, both inshore and deepwater, but our strategic focus enabled us to make progress on our goal of NZD 1 EBIT/kg greenweight, increasing our EBIT per kg from NZD 0.57 to NZD 0.63 – excluding the commodity volumes caught by Sanford’s fishing partners,” Kuntzsch said in the report. 

Sanford said it plans on ramping up a new investment strategy over the next two years that will see NZD 100 million (USD 68 million, EUR 60 million) allocated toward increasing profitability in the face of climate change.

Additionally, the company revealed that it had sold its 50 percent stake in a plant in Weihai, China, to Japanese foodservice group Plenus Co. for NZD 9.2 million (USD 6.3 million, EUR 5.5 million) in its annual posting. 


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