Image by Harrison Photography
In picture is, left, John Hood, Invest NI Food and Tourism Director, and Daniel Whittle, Managing Director of Kilkeel Seafoods.
Kilkeel Seafoods is investing £933,000 and plans to create 33 new jobs with support from Invest Northern Ireland’s Jobs Fund.
The company, based at Kilkeel Harbour, is expanding its processing operations for wholetail scampi for supply to Whitby Seafoods, its parent company in North Yorkshire.
The new jobs will be provided over the next two years. Invest NI has offered support of £99,000 for the 33 new posts through the Jobs Fund.
John Hood, Invest NI Food and Tourism Director said: “This is a very significant and strategic investment by Whitby which will strengthen the position of Kilkeel Seafoods within the wider business and is being made because of the quality of products processed at the port from scampi sourced from local and Irish trawlers.
“The consolidation of scampi processing at Kilkeel is, therefore, a very important boost for the local fishing industry and the wider economy of the County Down coastal region, the centre of a fish processing industry in Northern Ireland.
“Support from the Jobs Fund will leverage almost £500,000 annually in direct salaries and wages of the new employees as well as offering opportunities to a broad range of suppliers including local trawler owners and crews.”
Kilkeel Seafood currently employs 140 people directly in Northern Ireland’s principal fishing port.
“This support is in line with our strategic focus on encouraging the industry to develop added value products that combine quality, provenance and safety for consumers,” added Mr Hood.
Daniel Whittle, Managing Director of Kilkeel Seafoods said: “The decision to expand scampi shelling and processing operations in Kilkeel is the outcome of a strategic decision by the group to concentrate resources on supplying existing and potential customers, both retail and foodservice, with scampi sourced from UK and Irish trawlers and processed within our operations, especially here at Kilkeel.
“It’s a tremendous endorsement in the consistently high quality of our products and also of the scampi from the North Channel and Irish Sea provided by our network of experienced suppliers.”
“The investment being undertaken in our operations in Kilkeel positions us for faster growth within Whitby Seafoods as the group responds to the developing market demand for locally sourced food,” he added.
Kilkeel Seafoods was formed in 2011 when Whitby acquired Rockall Seafoods, another local scampi producer. This followed Whitby’s earlier acquisition of Middleton Seafoods, in 1997, and made the new company the biggest shelling and processing of wholetail scampi in the UK. Whitby employs 140 people in North Yorkshire.