Loch Duart's salmon packaging. The company will have more fish to sell in future after buying five farms on Skye.

Loch Duart plans major expansion after buying sites from Scottish Sea Farms

Skye farms previously operated by Grieg will more than double potential harvest volume

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Scottish salmon farmer Loch Duart has the chance to more than double its production volume after buying five sites in Skye from the country’s second-largest salmon producer, Scottish Sea Farms (SSF).

Loch Duart revealed the purchase in its annual report for its 2022 financial year, published today.

The sites were part of the package SSF acquired when it bought Grieg Seafood Hjaltland in December last year. SSF, which bought Grieg for its Shetland sites, has never farmed them.

9,694 tonnes

According to information on the Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Aquaculture website, the five Skye sites have a combined maximum allowed biomass of 9,694 tonnes (see panel). Loch Duart, which farms in Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides, currently produces around 6,000 tonnes of salmon annually.

Loch Duart's new sites

Uig Bay: 1,625 tonnes maximum allowed biomass

Loch Snizort East: 2,124 tonnes

Gob na Hoe: 2,215 tonnes

Corlarach: 1,602 tonnes

Leinish Bay: 2,128 tonnes

Total: 9,694 tonnes

Loch Duart doesn’t specify how much it paid for the farms, which were acquired after the period covered by its accounts, but does write that during September this year it raised £4.1 m with a share issue. Fish Farming Expert understands that SSF sold the farms at around or shortly after that time.

The new sites represent a considerable investment for Loch Duart, which is owned by a US sustainable investment fund. On top of the undisclosed purchase price, the company will have to equip the sites, which had been closed by Grieg prior to its sales to SSF.

No tangible assets

“No fish or tangible assets, other than housing, were involved in that acquisition and the group will work to bring those sites into production in the near term,” Loch Duart said in its report.

The company still owns salmon farming licences in Canada and hasn’t given up on restarting operations there after leaving several years ago.

“Efforts to explore the potential for reopening Canadian operations continue, but any such possibility is not yet predictable in timing of scale,” wrote directors.

Loch Duart made a profit of more than £1.5 million in its 2022 financial year (FY 2022), which ended on March 31. The figure marked a £4.6 m turnaround compared to a loss of £3.1 m the year before.

Turnover in FY 2022 increased to £40.6 m (FY 2021: £31.2 m) as recovery from the impact of the Covid pandemic allowed Loch Duart to resume focus on exports and the food service sector, both of which had been hit by worldwide lockdowns.