A Highland salmon and trout processing company that supplies a leading UK supermarket chain has said its sales have reached the highest level in more than 30 years as consumers eat at home during the lockdown.
But, despite the surge in demand for its products and challenges of continuing production during current restrictions, employee-owned Aquascot, of Alness, is also providing support to the local community during the crisis.
The Easter Ross firm currently employs around 190 people, referred to as “partners” as part of its employee ownership structure.
Andy Wilson, the company’s head of commercial, said: “Our commercial team are working closely with our key customer, Waitrose, as shoppers across the country adjust to eating many more meals at home.
“It takes hard work, but we are ready to meet the challenge and adjust accordingly.”
Aquascot’s production, engineering and hygiene teams have altered the layout of its plant to optimise social distancing and separation and enable the firm to meet rising demand for its products. Flexible working hours have been introduced for workers affected by school and nursery closures.
The company is also working with Dingwall-based C&E Taxis to provide transport for workers travelling from the Ross-shire town and Inverness for day and night shifts.
Earlier this month, Aquascot’s partnership council donated fresh salmon to feed 45 people through the Covid-19 Support Group for Invergordon, Alness, Tain and Evanton, and it plans to step up such support.
Rachel Hannah, who chairs the partnership council, said: “Going forward, we will donate both salmon and trout to support up to 130 vulnerable people per week and help the local community get through this crisis.”
Aquascot, one of the largest employee-owned businesses in Scotland, has also been working with Kingussie High School, which is manufacturing PPE visors for key workers at Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, and local care homes.
The company has sourced and gifted plastic from the firm that manufactures its fish trays and also made a cash donation to support the school’s efforts.
Aquascot managing director John Housego said: “None of what Aquascot have managed to achieve would be possible without the outstanding efforts and commitment of all the key workers on site, who continue to work tirelessly and passionately in such troubling times.
“We are immensely proud of all our people for their efforts and wish to thank everyone for their support and understanding.”
Aquascot has supplied the Waitrose chain, which is also employee-owned, since 1993.
The Easter Ross company’s transfer to employee-ownership began in 2008 and was completed nine years later.