There was fresh hope for workers at a Highland fish plant yesterday after it was revealed a buyer may be found for the plant.
The future of 24 staff at Spey Valley Smokehouse at Grantown was thrown into doubt two weeks ago when owner Young’s Seafood earmarked the site for closure.
The announcement was made after the processing giant lost a huge contract to supply salmon to supermarket Sainsbury’s.
That contract is understood to have been worth about £100million.
But following a Scottish Government-led summit in Peterhead yesterday, Business Minister Fergus Ewing – who is also local MSP – said there was still hope for the smokehouse.
Mr Ewing said: “The position is that there is third party interest in taking over that plant. Nothing is certain but we’ll be working with Young’s and the third parties who may be interested in taking over the plant, either in its current capacity or in some other form.
“Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise as well as a number of other public agencies are working under my direction to take all these matters forward in the next few weeks.”
The meeting, co-chaired by Mr Ewing and Moray MSP and Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, was also attended by Young’s senior management, union representatives and Scottish Enterprise officials.
Following the talks, Young’s chief executive Pete Ward described the discussion as “encouraging” and said the firm was exploring different options for the future.
Margaret Davidson, leader of Highland Council, was also involved in the taskforce meeting and said: “The council can also provide support to the staff involved with money advice, benefits, and new-start business advice.”
The news that Spey Valley Smokehouse may be taken over was delivered as Young’s announced that a fish processing factory in Fraserburgh which employs more than 900 people may not be shut down.
The Watermill Road factory provided the bulk of the Sainsbury’s contract produce and was facing total closure before yesterday’s meeting.
Mr Ward said his company drawn-up plans to keep the plant open and retain about 250 staff.