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Cages supplied by Fusion Marine, one of more than 700 Scottish companies used by SSF in 2017. Photo: Fusion Marine
Cages supplied by Fusion Marine, one of more than 700 Scottish companies used by SSF in 2017. Photo: Fusion Marine

Scottish Sea Farms has revealed that it spent more than £100 million – 85% of total supplier spend – procuring goods and services from local businesses in 2017, many of them small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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This is an increase £13.9m on 2016 and has been driven by a long-standing company policy to "buy Scottish" wherever possible, SSF said.

Jim Gallagher:
Jim Gallagher: "The communities in which we farm are integral to our success." Photo: SSF

Managing director Jim Gallagher said: “The communities in which we farm are integral to our success, from their natural resources to their local workforces and businesses. It seems only fitting therefore that these same communities should derive maximum value in return; something we are proud to have grown again in 2017 – and will strive to continue growing in 2018 and beyond.”

709 local suppliers

The figures also show that Scottish Sea Farms:

  • Procured goods and services from 709 local suppliers across Scotland
  • Invested most on feed, nutrition and ensuring optimum fish health, followed by construction of an innovative new freshwater facility at Barcaldine, near Oban
  • Achieved an average spend of £141,474 per Scottish-based supplier.

The news comes on the back of the recent Scottish Salmon Farming Economic Report, commissioned by the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, which highlighted that the sector contributes £558m to the national economy in gross value added and spends a total of £390m on local suppliers and services.

Fergus Ewing: Figures show support aquaculture provides for businesses.
Fergus Ewing: Figures show support aquaculture provides for businesses.

Minister for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, welcomed the SSF announcement. He said: “These figures show the scale of the support that Scottish aquaculture provides for rural businesses, protecting and creating jobs, and supporting communities. The support they offer for research and innovation is also invaluable in ensuring the long-term future of the industry.

“I fully support Scottish Sea Farms’ ethos of supporting local suppliers and this is something that I encourage right across our food and drink sector.”

Ongoing support

SSF, jointly owned by Norwegian salmon farming heavyweights Salmar and Lerøy, operates 46 farm sites, two processing plants and employs 449 people.

Its suppliers include Inverness-based Gael Force, which saw an increase in turnover of close to 45% in 2017 and added 50 new jobs. Owner and managing director Stewart Graham said: “Almost all of this growth can be attributed to orders from the aquaculture industry. It’s the ongoing support of companies such as Scottish Sea Farms that has propelled us on to develop new innovative technologies and services – something we will continue to do in 2018 with a planned £1m investment in increased capacity and the development of new products.”

Onward spend

SSF said its spending was not restricted to the aquaculture heartland of the Highlands and Islands, but included companies from Shetland and Orkney in the north, to Ayrshire in the south west, and from Aberdeen in the east to Mull on the west coast.

Jim Traynor, chairman of net manufacturers W&J Knox in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, said: “Few people would connect Ayrshire with aquaculture, yet the positive impact of the industry is keenly felt, with Scottish Sea Farms’ contracts helping protect 63 jobs in an area of otherwise high unemployment – not forgetting the onward spend within the local community.”

Iain Forbes, director of Fusion Marine, near Oban, which recently received a £1m order from SSF for new fish farm pens, said: “Hauliers, B&Bs, ferry travel, generators, welfare units and sundries – each and every pen we install for Scottish Sea Farms generates business both for the area local to us and the remote communities in which we work.”

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