Hundreds of jobs are to go over Christmas after the “devastating” announcement a major seafood firm in the Highlands is to close.
The foreign owners of Dingwall-based Edinburgh Salmon Company (ESCo) confirmed it will cease operations at the processing plant at the end of the year.
It will leave 163 staff and up to 100 agency workers out of work.
North politicians have called on the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to assist employees in finding work.
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Européenne de la Mer, a subsidiary of owners Thai Union Group, revealed in September the plant was suffering heavy losses and it was looking at all options, including attempting to find a buyer.
But the owners – who recorded losses of £7million last year – said yesterday: “We regret to announce that no feasible alternative solution to closure was found during collective consultation.
“At this time, our primary concern is the future of our employees and we are now entering into an individual consultation process with each of them.
“We are making every possible effort to support them in their search for alternative employment.”
MSP John Finnie said: “This is bitterly disappointing news and will come as a huge blow to all those workers on site, especially at this time of year.
“I have sought assurances that the Scottish Government will continue to make every possible effort to assist the workforce in light of this closure.”
Dingwall councillor Graham Mackenzie said: “Your first thoughts are for the workers and their families. It is devastating news, particularly at this time of year.
“It is not just the employees and their families, though they must be our first thought, it is the other people who supply their needs, the shopkeepers in the town and the businesses that rely on trade from the fish factory. Everybody is impacted by this.”
Edward Mountain MSP said: “This is very disappointing news, especially as it comes just before Christmas.”
James Gibbs, area manager for HIE’s Inner Moray Firth team, said: “This is hugely disappointing news and clearly a very difficult time for employees and their families, and also for the many agency staff and supply chain companies associated with ESCo.”
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “I am very disappointed to learn that, after a period of consultation, Thai Union has announced it is to close the Edinburgh Salmon Company site in Dingwall. I recognise this will be a severe blow to the workforce, their families and to the local community.
“We will do whatever we can to help those affected back into employment as soon as possible. Both myself and Business Minister Jamie Hepburn have engaged regularly with the Edinburgh Salmon Company throughout the consultation process to offer all possible support.”