UK family-run Simply Seafoods pushing into US through Trader Joe’s bridgehead

Simply Seafoods Account Manager Hayley Stephens
Simply Seafoods Account Manager Hayley Stephens | Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource
6 Min

Shirley, Solihull, U.K.-based Simply Seafoods is pushing its products into the U.S. through a partnership with retailer Trader Joe’s.

The family-owned company, which has seven employees, currently does most of its business in the U.K. but is making a push to diversify into Europe and the U.S. It scored a win by getting into U.S. grocery chain Trader Joe’s through fellow U.K. firm Wildwaters Seafood and is now angling for a supply contract with Kroger.

“We want to branch out,” Simply Seafoods Account Manager Hayley Stephens told SeafoodSource at the 2024 Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona, Spain, where the company was exhibiting. “Our primary business is partnering with producers around the world to help them enter the U.K. market. But, we’re growing in the U.S. and Spain as well.”

Founded in 2000 by CEO Nigel Ackrill – who is also known for founding Sea Products International – Simply Seafoods got its start with a focus on Turkish sea bass.

“Nigel reentered the seafood business with his son when they saw a gap in the market for sea bass,” Stephens said. “They partnered with a producer in Turkey and started supplying U.K. supermarkets, and our business has grown from there.”

Today, Simply Seafoods supplies a variety of frozen seafood to U.K. supermarket chains Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Iceland, as well as foodservice operators and wholesalers. It has branched into offering prawns from Ecuador, North American lobster from Canada, spiny lobster from the Caribbean, snow crab from Canada and Japan, turbot from Spain and Norway, Turkish trout, and octopus from the Mediterranean and Portugal. Simply Seafoods also benefits from a partnership with Glenmar Seafood UK, which was founded in the wake of Brexit to fill the gap left by European importers struggling with changing regulations.

“We have a wide product range, and that’s an advantage for us – many companies in the U.K. don't stock, say, high-priced imported items like lobsters. We import container loads, but customers of ours can buy box by box; that’s one of our big selling points for lobster.” Stephens said. “For many of our partners, we basically act as their U.K. sales representative, and we facilitate communication when there's a language barrier.”

Stephens said U.K. consumers seem to have become fully hooked on Turkish sea bass and bream, and in response to growing consumer demand, it recently added ...

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