Former salmon exporter makes comeback: “It’s buyer’s market”

Marius Brattli pulled back into industry to start his own company.

Open Water is called the export company that will start trading salmon this week.

“In the first place, we aim to turn around 2-3 trucks a week. The target in the long term is 5-6 trucks. The market is primarily in southern Europe,” said the Spanish-speaking 37-year-old from Tromso, Northern Norway.

He has lived in Bergen for a number of years and worked as a salesman in export companies such as Lerøy and Seaborn.

“After three years in Seaborn, I was headhunted to a German company. I worked as a purchasing manager for them. It was really fun, we were trading 20 trucks a week,” he said enthusiastically.

The German employer was PTC, Product Trade Center. The catch was that the company went bankrupt a year later.

“If I’d known they were going to go bankrupt, I’d never quit Seaborn. But I don’t regret it, it was quite an experience. It was a very good experience. I came across the table, as a buyer, and got to know many of those who sell fish in Norway,” he said.

After PTC, Marius Brattli had two choices; either get a new job in the industry or start-up himself. He chose the latter and started the consulting company Fishbuyers.

“Being a consultant was just fine and nice. I was part of everything from start-up projects to selling frozen inventory, but I wanted to go back to trading. Day to day sharking. I think that’s funny. It triggers me. I like the dynamic. I have faith in the daily contact between buyer and seller. The salmon world is not that big,” he added.

At the same time, he is humbled by the task he now faces.

“Absolutely everyone knows that it’s tough to start up. It’s far from anyone rooting for you directly, and that’s fair enough. But I don’t feel like I need to be aggressive to make it. One can be friendly, nice, and talk to everyone and still succeed. I think that’s the key for me,” he said.

Brattli has steely faith in the product he’s going to shop for, salmon.

Buyer’s market
“Right now it’s the buyer’s market. But when tourism starts up again, we have to have food, people become healthier and more concerned with what we eat. And both you and I know that the reputation of Norwegian salmon is different in the world than here at home,” he said.

Now, and for a while to come, Brattli will buy and sell the fish alone, but he is in the process of bringing in a person to take care of the sale.

“We are betting on the long term -not for short-term profit. Against large customers in Spain, Italy and Portugal. And then we have a plan to establish ourselves in Africa. Nigeria, Kenya can be interesting,” he explained.

Do you have fixed agreements on buyer and sale?

“Not as for now, but we have clear indications of it. We want to succeed with salmon farmers,” he said, thinking especially of smaller and medium-sized players.

“Growth itself is not a goal. That’s not why we’re into this. We are here to establish jobs – for ourselves and hopefully for others,” he continued.

A number of foreign investors have gone in with “a small amount” in the export firm.

Are there industrial or financial investors?

“Financial – or a combo in fact. It is simply a group that comes from different industries. They want returns in the long term. They are silent partners, they are not part of the daily operation. Should one startup, one must either borrow money or bring in investors,” he said, adding that investors have nothing to do with PTC.

“I own 100 per-cent. We haven’t agreed 2000 per-cent. I’m probably going to own a few percent,” Brattli said.

“There has been no lack of interest. People want to get into salmon. Of course; people would rather go into the farming -side, but it is not so easy, he chuckled, adding: “Then they should rather buy shares in Mowi”.


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