High Liner Foods to cease New Bedford value-added production by end of 2016

High Liner Foods, a Canadian seafood processor, plans to shut down its value-added fish operation in New Bedford, Mass. by the end of 2016.

The company made the announcement in its 2015 fourth quarter results report. In a press release, the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia-based company said the New Bedford plant was the company’s most underutilized manufacturing facility with annual production of approximately 40 million pounds. In its announcement, it said the plant’s closure, which was completed to reduce excess capacity across the company’s North American supply chain, would save the company USD 20 million (EUR 17.9 million) annually.

"In 2015, we made good progress on optimizing our supply chain and sufficiently increased capacity at our Lunenburg, Portsmouth and Newport News facilities such that they are able, collectively, to absorb the production of our New Bedford facility and still provide sufficient capacity to meet our growth objectives going forward,” High Liner Foods President and CEO Keith Decker said. “The decision to cease the value-added fish operations in New Bedford is necessary to ensure High Liner Foods' continued ability to compete and grow.”

The move will result in the termination of 202 workers – 35 salaried employees and 167 hourly workers. An additional 25 employees working in High Liner’s scallop processing operations at the New Bedford facility will not be affected, the company said. Some of the job losses would be offset by additional hires at the High Liner’s other value-added facilities, Decker added.

High Liner acquired the New Bedford plant when it bought American Pride Seafood for USD 34.5 million (EUR 31 million) in October 2013.

It previously closed plants in Malden, Mass. in 2015 after its 2010 purchase of Viking Seafoods gave it control of that facility, and it shuttered operations of its Danvers, Mass. plant in 2013. In both cases, the company cited underutilization of the facilities’ processing capabilities as the primary reason for the closures.

Also in its report, High Liner reported USD 1 billion (EUR 898 million) in sales for 2015, USD 50.1 million (EUR 44.9 million) less than 2014.

Decker said the company will continue to focus on increasing sales and managing costs in 2016, but added he didn’t expect to see sales growth until after the first quarter of 2016 due to a shorter promotional period for the 2016 Lenten season. He said efforts to increase volume “will continue to be supported by lower seafood raw material prices” in 2016.


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