The assets of Gloucester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based National Fish & Seafood (NFS) have been purchased by NSD Seafood, which said in a 22 May announcement it planned to restart production of NFS' Matlaw’s stuffed clam line and other products.
NFS abruptly closed its doors on 10 May. SeafoodSource first broke the story on 20 May that an unnamed buyer wanted to acquire NFS and resume the company’s operations. On 22 May, NSD Seafood agreed to purchase all of National Fish's assets and rename the company Atlantic Fish & Seafood, according to the Gloucester Daily Times. The operations team is hoping to begin production within a week at NFS’s former 60,000-square-feet facility in Gloucester.
Nicholas M. Osgood, a principal in NSD Seafood, along with two other partners from the NSDJ Real Estate company that owns NFS’s 159 E. Main St. facility, acquired NFS’s assets, according to the Gloucester Daily Times.
"I would expect to bring back as many workers as we possibly can, as many as the business and our growth will allow,” Osgood told the newspaper.
NFS President Todd Provost will remain in a senior management capacity with Atlantic Fish & Seafood.
"I wouldn't do this unless I was optimistic. We have an unbelievable team, a great group of people,” Provost told the Gloucester Daily Times.
Osgood and Provost did not respond to SeafoodSource’s requests for comment.
The new management team expects to relocate its administrative offices from 11-15 Parker St. to its 159 E. Main St. site.
Osgood declined to state what NSD Seafood paid for NFS, but told the newspaper, “It's been a bit of work to get to this point. There have been a lot of moving pieces.”
The deal was certainly financially challenging, as the bankrupt seafood conglomerate Pacific Andes owned 60 percent of NFS. And NFS owes money to several seafood suppliers, transport companies, government agencies, and others.
In fact, two days before NFS closed down, Singapore-based Crustrade PTE LTD and PT Bumi Menara Interusa in Indonesia said in a complaint that NFS failed to pay for “large quantities of fish it had contracted to purchase and receive.”
The two exporters – along with a third supplier (Good Luck Product Co.) that worked with Crustrade – incurred damages of more than USD 5 million (EUR 4.5 million), according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.
“We will keep the federal district court case going,” Kurt Olson, the attorney representing Crustrade and PT Bumi Menara Interusa in the lawsuit, told SeafoodSource on 23 May. Olson has not talked to NFS’s new owners and does not know the management team’s plans for paying creditors.
“We can’t divine what the new owners will do with regard to creditors that are owned money,” he said.
Meanwhile, Osgood said that Atlantic Fish & Seafood plans to restart the production line in phases, starting with Matlaw’s clam line, followed by its frozen fish line and other products.
"National Fish has a strong customer base and they enjoy working with our staff, which is very skilled and knowledgeable,” he said. "We are looking at order flow for orders that already exist to determine which to fire up first."
While the City of Gloucester held a job fair on 21 May and assisted former NFS employees in many other ways, Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken was hopeful that many NFS could resume work at their old worksplace once it resumes operations.
“Someone is trying to work on it, to keep it as it is, and hire everyone back,” she told SeafoodSource on 20 May. “[But] I’m not holding my breath until I get confirmation.”
Now, Romeo Theken tells SeafoodSource that she has talked with the new owners and supports its efforts.
“With a deal set, I’m eager and thrilled to get people back to work and for operations to resume,” she said in a statement provided to SeafoodSource.
The City of Gloucester worked with NSD “every step of the way to support and foster efforts to get the business up and running as quickly as possible. I'm proud of what we accomplished,” Romeo Theken said.
"I look forward to future collaboration and a long working partnership with NSD Seafood Company,” she added. “My team and I worked hard to promote, advocate and protect Gloucester while simultaneously supporting local business in our great city. Our priority was to assist and support the employees and families impacted by the sudden shut down and we quickly coordinated an employee outreach meeting and job fair."
The mayor also thanked Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Office of Business Development, the MassHire Rapid Response Team, State Senator Bruce Tarr, and State Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante for their partnership during the process.