Moray Chamber of Commerce member Associated Seafoods Ltd (ASL) was established in 2012 and has experienced remarkable growth over the last seven years that has established the company as a major player in the Scottish smoked salmon sector, and in the process, providing a significant boost to the Buckie and wider Moray economy.

Seven years ago, Buckie shellfish processor Moray Seafoods was on the verge of closure, with the potential for a devastating economic blow to the local area. However, a group of investors stepped-in and acquired the factory, securing valuable jobs for the community.

Whilst it would have been more cost-effective to relocate elsewhere, the management was determined that the processing facility should stay in the traditional fishing community of Buckie, thus supporting the local economy. A key reason for this was the recognition that fishing was in the lifeblood of the community, which in turn provided a valuable skills resource to draw upon and nurture.

Seven years on, and with a strategy in place that resulted in a switch in emphasis from shellfish to premium Scottish smoked salmon via the acquisition of award winning exporter Lossie Seafoods, the end result has been:

Turnover increasing from £8m to £30m, over 60% from exporting to significant new markets in Canada, the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Securing premium salmon supply contract with Marks and Spencer

Staff employment rising from 50 to 250.

Re-built factory with £9m investment, and another £1m being spent just before Christmas 2018.

Promoting Scottish provenance and a commitment to Moray – for example, by putting Spey Bay on front of M&S salmon packs across UK.

A key element of this growth has been the strategic commitment of ASL to build its management team from local and in-house talent, resulting in the development of an in-house training programme and working with initiatives such as Developing the Young workforce (DYW) and Career Ready. Foreign language training is also undertaken to assist staff in labelling and customs requirements for international customers.

The company also works closely with local primary and secondary schools, encouraging and informing the next generation about the career opportunities available in the seafood sector.

The underlying ethos of ASL is a determination to give young people the maximum opportunity to fill new positions and build for themselves worthwhile careers in a local business that cares for its people and the local community.

Victor West, ASL managing director, says: “We are dedicated to developing and encouraging young people throughout our local area to find their future pathway in the global workplace environment, which is why we place so much emphasis in this area of the business.”

Sarah Medcraf, Chief Executive of Moray Chamber of Commerce, says: “We have a fantastic food and drink offering in the region and Associated Seafoods not only provide exceptional product all over the world, but they are committed to their roots, the local economy and our future generation. The team at ASL are leading the way and I am delighted to be working with them on different projects within the business.’