Karro replaces Young’s CEO with former Seachill MD

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Bill Showalter is out, Simon Smith is in, as new owner makes big changes at the top.

In a press release today, Karro Food Group – the UK pork processor that bought Britain’s largest seafood business has placed Simon Smith at the helm of Young’s Seafood.

Karro Food Group – which has been owned by CapVest since March 2017 – bought the Grimsby-based business early in July.

Smith was instrumental in developing the popular Saucy Fish brand. His most recent role was Seachill MD – Hilton Food Group’s seafood division – but he also had senior roles at Diageo and Northern Foods. He will take up his new role with Young’s from 21 October 2019.

Saucy Fish brand
Smith replace Bill Showalter who has elected to leave Young’s at the end of July. Showalter joined the Findus Group, the former parent company to Young’s Seafood, as chief financial officer in 2014 and oversaw the sale of the group’s Continental European Businesses to Nomad Foods.

For the past three years, he has led Young’s Seafood as chief executive and has played a key role in implementing the company’s strategic plan securing more than £200m of long-term, own label contracts with two of Britain’s leading retailers and successfully diversifying the company through the growth of its foodservice operations and the launch of the Young’s brand in the US market.

CEO of Young’s Seafood Bill Showalter PHOTO: Young’s Seafood

Showalter’s time in role culminated in the sale of the company and the combination of Young’s with Karro to create a GBP 1.2bn-turnover, 5,000-strong group.

Karro Food Group chief executive Di Walker said: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of Simon to the role of CEO for Young’s and am looking forward to working with him to deliver our ambitions for the company. Simon has extensive retail experience and is known and respected throughout the seafood industry for his achievements with Seachill and the development of the Saucy Fish brand.

“I would like to thank Bill for his significant contribution to Young’s over the past six years and respect his decision to seek new challenges elsewhere now that the future of the business is secured. I wish Bill all the very best for the future. He can be proud that he leaves Young’s as the UK’s leading fish and seafood company, holding both the number one position in chilled and frozen sales.”

Walker will hold the role of acting CEO between the end of July and 21 October when Smith joins Young’s.

Simon Smith said: “I am looking forward to this new opportunity to work with Di Walker and the Capvest team to lead the UK’s largest and most diverse seafood business. Under its new leadership, the company is ideally placed across multiple categories to truly inspire people to love fish and embed its position as the UK’s leading seafood company. I am very much looking forward to helping the business push forward with its national and international seafood ambitions.”

Bill Showalter added: “It has been a great privilege to lead such a talented and dedicated team as that at Young’s, and I would like to thank them for all the support they have given me. Having delivered the business into its next stage of ownership, I believe the time is right to move to the next stage of my career. With the acquisition by Karro, I am confident that Young’s has a strong foundation from which it can drive growth, providing exceptional quality fish and stand out innovation to countries around the world.”

Karro and Grimsby based Young’s will operate as two separate businesses within the enlarged group. The sale figure has not been revealed – but it could have fetched between GBP 170m and GBP 200m.


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