Fish being smoked at Aquascot's factory in Alness, Ross-shire. The employee-owned company aims to double capacity.

Automation is the answer for Aquascot

With new staff hard to find, the salmon and trout processor for upmarket retailer Waitrose is relying on technology to meet increasing demand


A two-phase expansion that will double the capacity of salmon and trout processor Aquascot is under way and is likely to be completed by June 2024.

The Waitrose supplier has been granted £1.2 million from the Scottish Government’s Marine Fund Scotland towards the £3.42 m cost of improvements and modernisation of processing facilities at its factory in Alness, Ross-shire.

It has also been awarded £3.7 million from the Westminster government’s UK Seafood Food. The grant will help meet the cost of building a new, sustainably designed salmon processing facility adjacent to the existing plant, and of installing state of the art equipment.

Both phases of the expansion will make the company more efficient and sustainable.

Upskilling employees

Aquascot finance director Simon Wrench said the first phase of the expansion – improving the existing plant – is expected to be completed by June next year.

The second phase – the new facility to be built next door – should be ready a year later.

Aquascot is Scotland’s largest employee-owned company, but the expansion won’t create many new jobs, partly because finding people to work in processing is difficult, especially in sparsely populated areas.

Instead, current employees – who are shareholding partners in the business – are likely to be upskilled.

“We’re trying to bring in as much automation as possible and increase capacity,” said Wrench, who added that the expansion would futureproof Aquascot to meet increasing demand for salmon and trout products.