Macduff Shellfish lands UK’s largest scallop fishing fleet

DELIGHTED: Fergus Beaton, Euan Beaton, Roy Cunningham and Paul Beaton of Mintlaw-based Macduff Shellfish are thrilled with the major new deal.
DELIGHTED: Fergus Beaton, Euan Beaton, Roy Cunningham and Paul Beaton of Mintlaw-based Macduff Shellfish are thrilled with the major new deal.

MINTLAW-based Macduff Shellfish has acquired the UK’s largest scallop fishing fleet, Scott Trawlers, in a ground-breaking deal for the two businesses, backed by Royal Bank of Scotland.

The purchase, a first for Macduff Shellfish in acquiring a whole fleet of fishing vessels, brings together two major players in the shellfish industry and enables greater integration through the scallop catching, processing, sales and marketing process.

It forms part of an ambitious plan by Macduff Shellfish - the UK’s largest wild caught shellfish processor - to double the size of its business in the next five years.

Scott Trawlers, based in Dumfries, operates five scallop vessels, two of which have ‘frozen at sea’ capabilities, unique to the scallop industry. The vessels account for over 15% of all UK scallop landings. The company also has a fleet of refrigerated lorries and a marine engineering business, catering for the manufacturing needs of scallop fishermen. It employs 50 employees across the three operations, 35 of whom are fishermen.

Macduff Shellfish, based in Mintlaw near Peterhead, processes shellfish and exports to Europe and the Far East as well as supplying the UK market.

Commenting on the deal Euan Beaton, chairman of Macduff Shellfish, said: “Owning an entire fishing fleet is a first for Macduff Shellfish. This significant deal enables us to expand our scallop business, allows us to have a full chain of custody from the sea to the customer and consolidates a solid 15 year relationship between the two businesses.

“Scott Trawlers has seen continuous investment which is apparent from the quality of the vessels, onboard equipment and exceptional calibre of the team and that was particularly attractive to us. We look forward to working with them all in taking the business forward.

“This is a really exciting time in Macduff Shellfish’s continued expansion. Over the last 10 years we’ve quadrupled the business. In the next five years I’d like us to double it again through acquisition deals such as this and through organic growth, including diversifying into other shellfish categories.”

Andy Scott of Scott Trawlers, added : “The team at Macduff Shellfish have a strong work ethic, are ambitious and continually invest in their business. The two businesses are a great fit and that was very important to me as I looked for ways in which I could still operate and grow the business but in partnership with a like-minded operation.

“We have always been at the forefront of the scallop sector and this deal enables us to bring forward innovation from the catch through to the end product. That provides an exciting future for Scott Trawlers working as part of a much bigger team.”

Scott Trawlers will become a subsidiary of Macduff Shellfish, based in Dumfries and staff will continue to report into Andy Scott.

Although this is the first acquisition of a fishing fleet, Macduff Shellfish provides financing assistance to fishermen looking to purchase a vessel or invest in equipment.

Euan Beaton added : “To date we have financing arrangements in place with nine vessels. We are keen to expand this as well as looking at other acquisitions within the shellfish industry.”

Rory McPherson, Head of Structured Finance, Aberdeen, Royal Bank of Scotland Corporate & Institutional Banking, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this deal which brings together two industry leading companies led by excellent management teams.

“The business case for this deal is compelling and will help to drive the growth of Macduff Shellfish in order to reach its ambitious targets. Our involvement in this deal underlines our commitment to support quality businesses in the North East of Scotland.”