AQUACULTURE supply company Gael Force Group is to invest more than £1 million in an expansion and innovation programme this year following record growth in 2017.
Last year, the Inverness based firm increased turnover by almost 45 per cent and added 50 new staff to its now 200-strong team – growth driven mostly by orders from Scottish salmon producers.
Now, the company wants to increase capacity and develop new products and services to meet customer demand.
Gael Force founder and managing director Stewart Graham said: ‘The growth of farmed Scottish salmon has been instrumental to the ongoing success of Gael Force.
‘As farming practices become increasingly sophisticated, so too we have become increasingly innovative, resulting in new products such as the SeaFeed Offshore Feeding System.
‘We look forward to developing even more added value products and services over the course of this year, and our planned investment of over £1 million in new capacity and R&D will enable us to grow our partnership with producers.’
Salmon farming as a whole contributes an estimated £558 million to the national economy and generates spending of £390 million on local suppliers and services.
Graham, who started Gael Force in Stornoway more than 35 years ago, said he had ‘witnessed a huge turnaround in the remote and rural communities and economy of Scotland’s Highlands and islands’.
One of Gael Force’s customers, Scottish Sea Farms, revealed earlier this week that it spent £100 million procuring goods and services from locally based suppliers in 2017.
Scottish Sea Farms’ managing director, Jim Gallagher, said: ‘Having businesses like Gael Force innovate and thrive alongside us is not only great to see, it’s also vital if we are to achieve industry and Scottish government ambitions for the continued growth of the sector.’
The company has also just announced a £1 million contract with another Scottish aquaculture supplier, Fusion Marine.
Work is already underway on the new contract which will see Fusion Marine, based in Barcaldine, near Oban, supply Scottish Sea Farms with 21 x 100m fish pens from its Triton 450 range, along with associated equipment, for two sites in Shetland.
Fusion Marine’s managing director, Stephen Divers, said: ‘This contract is a great example of how the growth of salmon farming has led the growth of our own product range.
‘The sector is constantly enhancing its practices, and we have worked closely with Scottish Sea Farms and other producers to ensure we’re developing the technologies they need to farm sustainably. Quite simply, our product and service has to be as superior as theirs.’
Picture: Gael Force Group managing director Stewart Graham