MARINE Harvest, which surprised the salmon industry yesterday by announcing a name change, has pledged a bright future for Scotland.
If approved by shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting in Bergen on December 4, a new brand name – Mowi – will replace Marine Harvest from the beginning of 2019, backed by an investment of €35 million.
Chief executive Alf-Helge Aarskog said the company in Scotland had a ‘really bright’ future and would ‘absolutely’ not be moving any of its operations – production or administration – to Ireland because of Brexit.
He told BBC Radio Scotland in an upbeat message that the Scottish arm of the business, which employs more than 1,200 people, was growing.
He said: ‘We are just now building Kyleakin on the west coast of Scotland, a huge feed operation, and we have built a processing plant in Rosyth, just out of Edinburgh, so we’re actually growing in Scotland.’
The Scottish base at Rosyth supplies three large UK retailers, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl.
He also dismissed fears of trading problems post-Brexit, saying: ‘I believe there will be good trade relations within the UK and big possibilities, and I also think that trade conflicts will be solved.
‘We operate in 24 different countries. We are within the EU and produce finished products in a lot of EU countries.’
And, addressing possible changes to the regulatory regime in Scotland, he told the Good Morning Scotland programme that salmon farm regulations should be science based.
‘I think the important thing in regards to regulation is that they’re built on science and sustainability. We are in this for the long run so it has to be smart, good regulations built on science and that’s the key point.’
Earlier in Norway, Aarskog revealed that the first Mowi premium brand salmon should be on the market early in the New Year, and would be the first global salmon brand.
‘The new name is building on our history and Mowi was the name when we were established in 1964. It is a short and catchy name which we believe will work all over the world.’
However, he did concede that it might be difficult to pronounce Mowi, which sounds like ‘Muveh’.
Marine Harvest plans to launch the brand in Europe in 2019, and then North America and Asia in 2020.
The name is taking Marine Harvest back to its Norwegian roots. The company was founded by the Mowinckel family in 1964 and traded as Mowi before being bought by Norsk Hydro.
It became Marine Harvest in 1999 and is now the world’s largest salmon farming business, employing more than 13,000 people worldwide, with production facilities in Norway, Chile, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Iceland.
The company, which has been working on a new name for the past two years, said the goal is to have a €1 billion turnover by 2025.
The man who will lead the brand change is German born Andreas Johler, who has worked as a brand specialist for both Unilever (the original owner of Marine Harvest) and Coca Cola.
Picture: Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog in Edinburgh yesterday