Plea for aid as food plant axes 250 jobs

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CALLS have been made for Government help after a fish-processing firm announced it was cutting up to 250 jobs in Grimsby.

Icelandic Seachill blamed a drop in demand and the need for “significant investment” for its decision to stop making supermarket ready meals at its Meals (West) site, in Grimsby.

The company, which employs 1,500 people at its three manufacturing sites in Grimsby, makes own-label fish dishes for most of the UK’s major food retailers as well as owning the Saucy Fish Co brand.

Chief executive Malcolm Eley pledged to redeploy “as many people as possible”. He said: “We are proposing to retain the successful Deli and Christmas business however, without a significant growth in the volume of meals produced we do not believe that it would be possible to justify the level of investment required to sustain ready meal production.”

Kerry Foods mothballed its frozen ready meals factory in Grimsby in 2012, with the loss of 337 jobs.

Council leader Chris Shaw said: “If this was a factory that built jets there’s be a Government taskforce here. We have plenty of RDF funding for renewables but we could do with one towards food processing.”

Grimsby Fish Merchants Association chief executive Steve Norton said frozen sales had flatlined for some time, but Icelandic had “experienced tremendous growth with Saucy Fish”. He said: “They have taken a commercial decision and are looking at focussing more on the chilled side – which may lead to more jobs.”

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