YOUNG’S Seafood is under pressure to reconsider its decision to close its Pinneys site at Annan, following direct intervention by the Scottish government.
Scotland’s business minister, Paul Wheelhouse, has written to the company demanding that ‘no stone should be left unturned’ to save as many jobs as possible.
It follows a number of earlier pleas to both Young’s and Marks & Spencer by MSPs. The Scottish government has also set up a special team to try to save the factory.
Wheelhouse (pictured) said in his letter: ‘We now need to focus on the immediate future and I hope you agree with me that our priority and shared objective must be to maintain some production at the site and retain as many of the jobs as possible.’
Young’s announced last week that the site, which employs 450 people in an area of high unemployment and few job opportunities, would close.
The company said it was getting out of some of its operations, such as deli products and meals, at the Annan facility because they were no longer financially sustainable.
As a consequence, it was moving natural salmon production to Grimsby where it planned to create 200 jobs – although most of these are thought to be the result of winning a Marks & Spencer coated fish contract.
The consultation process gets underway next week, with the end of the year the likely closure date. Young’s said it is also creating 50 jobs at its Annan scampi factory.
Wheelhouse told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning programme today that ministers were working to ‘find alternative opportunities for the site, perhaps contracts’.
He said: ‘The Scottish government has excellent links with the food and drinks sector, both in terms of the retail sector and other suppliers, and we’re looking to see if we can identify commercial opportunities that could be taken forward.’
But he cautioned that it could be challenging because so much of the work was being lost to other businesses.
The minister has said to Young’s: ‘I do of course appreciate the challenging commercial environment the company is operating in and the need for it to function as efficiently as possible.
‘However, I also think that Young’s has an obligation to consider the profound impact such a decision will have on the families affected by this announcement.
‘In some cases, as you will know, entire households are employed at Pinneys, and therefore we must leave no stone unturned in exploring all possible options to maintain production there.’
He also said earlier engagement by Young’s might have enabled Edinburgh to come up with a plan to help save the site.