Grimsby is 'logical place'
GRIMSBY'S eagerly awaited Morrisons seafood production facility could be just the start of a prosperous relationship between the supermarket giant and the town.
Major training initiatives for retail and factory staff are being explored as work continues at pace on the Europarc site.
Frank Green, head of seafood for the Bradford-based retailer, met senior figures from the town's super cluster this week, following up a meeting with Humber Seafood Institute chairman Wynne Griffiths CBE at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels in April.
And the senior executive underlined the importance of fish to Morrisons, while making it clear that Grimsby shouldn't just focus on what it can offer in seafood, as the "Market Street" fresh produce element of nearly 500 stores are further enhanced.
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Mr Green, a former Young's account director when Mr Griffiths was at the helm at Ross House, said: "I worked in Grimsby for ten years and had a smashing time, and it is the logical place for a retailer to open a fish business. The whole reason why we are here is the next step in development of a better store.
"My brief is the wider Morrisons brand, and how the factory fits in, how we can source directly and what products go into what type of processing and, most importantly, how we sell products to customers.
"Year on year we want that to improve and that is quite a challenge for us."
Morrisons is the UK's second biggest food manufacturer, having enjoyed success with the ownership model of production, particularly in bakery and butchery lines.
Seafood is the next component of that, with a clear focus.
Talks were held about the potential to train 500 fish counter managers here, in what would be a 26-week course, with scope to bring more than 1,000 fish counter staff together in the town to talk through the new push on fresh fish.
Mr Green said: "We are looking at how we can use the resources in this area.
"This is the seafood cluster for the UK, and part of the visit is how we find ways of improving our capability, and particularly those of our fishmongers, through training.
"We take this really seriously, it is part of our craft position as a retailer. Our point of difference is the in-store craft skills. We have fully trained butchers, bakers, cheesemongers and fishmongers. It is the experience that becomes a function in the store.
Mr Green was told how Young's Seafood got more than 1,600 employees to NVQ standard working with Grimsby Institute.
Tesco also trains fishmongers here, with 600 staff in the process of completing two residential units which involve five days in the town.
While not confirmed, Mr Green and industry officials were positive about the opportunity.
"There is competition, but I know Grimsby well, I worked for a great business here and understand the area," Mr Green said. "We should not see this just as seafood, but a dimension of food manufacturing. This should be a natural hub, providing we can get it done. It has great facilities, great infrastructure. All of these things make the area more amenable."
On schedule to open in early September, the former Kwoks ready meals factory is currently being transformed to include several production lines for white fish, salmon and shellfish.
Mr Green said: "We are on schedule to open on September 3. The next four to six weeks are very important, but work is starting to take shape."