Is 2 Sisters Food Group Angling to Sell Donegal Catch?

Irish frozen fish company Donegal Catch may be on the block, according to The Times of London. The newspaper reported on February 25 that Birmingham, England-based 2 Sisters Food Group, has engaged the Clearwater International corporate finance house to seek a buyer for its seafood unit.

breaded codThere has been no confirmation of the report from 2 Sisters, which is owned by food industrialist Ranjit Singh Boparan. Last month his parent company, Boparan Holdings, sold its Goodfella’s and San Marco frozen pizza brands to Nomad Foods for €225 million.

Operating under 2 Sisters’ Green Isle Foods banner, Donegal Catch has a processing plant in Gurteen, County Sligo. Promoting itself as “Ireland’s favorite frozen fishmonger,” the company is the largest purchaser of whitefish from the Irish catching sector. It transforms landings into a wide line of value-added seafood products ranging from breaded, natural and marinated fish fingers to cod, haddock, plaice and whiting fillets, whole tail scampi and salmon.

There has been speculation that Boparan Holdings, which reportedly has more than £823 million in net debt on its books, could potentially fetch upwards of £50 million from a sale of the seafood unit.

Ranked as Britain’s second largest food company, Boparan’s 2 Sisters Group dealt with a wave of negative publicity last year after ITV News and The Guardian newspaper reported that one of its fresh chicken processing facilities in England engaged in unhygienic practices. The investigation led to a parliamentary enquiry during which its chief executive assured that steps would be taken to enhance surveillance and inspections.

Production disruption was attributed to a 58% decline in first quarter operating profit of approximately £8.4 million. Three money-losing poultry plants in the UK are due to shut down this year, resulting in the loss of about 900 jobs in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the company is upgrading profitable facilities such including its Flixton and Scunthorpe factories, which will create hundreds of new jobs.