Blue Harvest CEO says no big changes coming at Hygrade
Blue Harvest Fisheries CEO Jeff Davis said no big changes are in the works for Hygrade Ocean Products following his company’s acquisition of the New Bedford, Massachusetts-based seafood processor and distributor.
The purchase of Hygrade by Blue Harvest and partner Bregal Partners officially closed Friday, 29 July. Davis told SeafoodSource the Hygrade name brand will continue and none of the company's 100 or so employees will be let go, including management.
“We bought the company because it is well-operated,” he said. “We’re very pleased with it – the current management will stay in place to help operate the business. The only thing we are going to do is add a couple of products and bring a few specialists in to strengthen the team.”
Blue Harvest, based in Naples, Florida has been on an acquisition streak, working in tandem with the investment group Bregal Partners. Besides the Hygrade purchase, they also bought New Bedford scallop fishing company Harbor Blue in March and Virginia-based scallop fisher Peabody in 2015. Those takeovers have created efficiencies that are still being discovered and put into place, Davis said.
“The Harbor Blue purchase will allow us to bring in some different species to Hygrade that previously weren’t being handled by them. We have expectations to start bringing some of those species into the Hygrade family of products, namely tuna and swordfish,” Davis said.
Blue Harvest especially prized Hygrade’s supply chain for cod and scallops, and said Blue Harvest’s scallop fishing boats can now choose whether to unload their catch in Virginia or New Bedford, depending on where they’re fishing.
“Depending where we harvest, that will determine where we land. Obviously, it makes sense to land closest to the area where we’re fishing,” he said. “That’s a nice benefit of having all these companies under one umbrella. We have good space in Virginia and we’re able to store a lot of the fleet there when it’s not fishing, while we keep the active fleet up in [Massachusetts] when they’re fishing up in that area.”
Products produced in the Hygrade 33,000-square-foot facility in New Bedford will still be branded with the Hygrade label, but the food production operation will now be under the purview of Blue Harvest Foods, Davis said.
Meanwhile, Davis said Blue Harvest and Bregal Partners are continuing to look at possible further acquisitions.
“We would like to continue to grow, and if we find the right businesses to acquire, we certainly consider that,” he said. “We still have the ability to add two more vessels to our scallop-fishing fleet and we’d especially like to do that.”