Seafood giant's confident of a strong future
COMPLETION of a £220-million capital restructuring of the parent company behind Grimsby superbrand Young's Seafood has been welcomed as providing a "strong platform from which to move forward".
The finalisation of a deal, which will strengthen the balance sheet and address debt issues at Findus Group, paves the way for an exciting future for Young's, according to the executives at the head of the firm.
Findus, together with its lenders, completed a consensual restructuring with an investor group made up of Lion Capital, Highbridge Capital, JP Morgan and Northwest Mutual, a move reported by the Telegraph in July.
Under the terms, £220-million has been made available to the business. A total of £125-million will be used to repay debt and £25-million will be retained as working capital.
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It means lending will be reduced from £721-million to £366-million, leaving Findus with a "sensible and sustainable capital structure from which to build the business", according to a statement from chief executive Chris Britton.
The investor group will also provide a £70-million additional credit facility for the group, which employs nearly 2,000 people in the town.
Mr Britton said: "With the business stable, fundamental growth drivers in each business, a new capital structure and very supportive stakeholders we can go forward with confidence. We can be excited for the future."
Focusing in on Young's, the seafood brand's chief executive, Leendert den Hollander, said: "2011 was a challenging year, as it was for every food business. Significant raw material inflation, along with other factors, placed increasing pressure on margins and profitability."
Cost restructuring, growth stimulation and sustainability have been key planks of the past 18 months.
"We have made some tough choices about our organisational structure across the company," said Mr den Hollander. "We have also rationalised our manufacturing operations and footprint to support our long-term objectives. We now have a stronger business, which is better positioned for the current economic climate."
They were choices that saw 321 jobs created in Grimsby, when production was consolidated here, with closures in Cumbria, Durham and East Anglia.
Mr den Hollander said: "We have targeted growth through acquisition with the integration of the Cumbrian business on the chilled side and continued our investment in innovation on frozen, for example with Jamie Oliver and Gastro.
"Integrating the Cumbrian business was a major change programme and we've now completed this work which is a real credit to our people."
Of the refinancing, he added: "It allows us to invest in profitable growth for our business. The deal signals confidence in our plan for the future and provides a strong platform from which to move forward. With a new capital structure and very supportive stakeholders we can go forward with confidence. We can be excited for the future.
"As seafood specialists, our objective is to inspire people to eat fish at least twice a week, and we are working closely with our customers to achieve this.
"Trading during 2012 has, to date, been promising and ahead of target, driven by our core focus areas. While we recognise that the general economic environment remains challenging, we're confident that we're taking the right steps to ensure we're on the right track for the future."