Scottish Sea Farms to pay back government coronavirus furlough funds

editorial staff

Salmon farmer will repay all money received from the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

In a press release, Leroy/SalMar-owned salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms writes that it is paying back in full the furlough scheme funding, which provided support at the start of the COVID-19 restrictions, and won’t be making any further claims.

Since March 2020, the company has furloughed 36 full-time and part-time staff – eight per cent of its 451-strong workforce – under the Job Retention Scheme, amounting to support in the region of GBP 106,000 until end of June. Staff got 100 per cent of their basic pay, 80 per cent of which was provided by the Job Retention Scheme.

Commenting on the decision, Scottish Sea Farms’ Managing Director Jim Gallagher said: “Both the UK and Scottish Governments were quick to identify food producers as being key to the nation’s resilience during the COVID-19 crisis, so we have worked hard to put in place the protective measures necessary to enable us to operate safely and at near full capacity to help keep supplies of fresh farmed salmon flowing.

“It was hugely important to us that these employees weren’t disadvantaged due to personal circumstances. The Job Retention Scheme has helped ensure they could take the time needed to care for themselves and their families,” he said.

Gallagher added that it’s hard to predict when exactly it will be safe or practical for those furloughed to return to work as normal, Scottish Sea Farms is opting to cover the full cost of salaries.

“Trading has been exceptionally tough these last few months. On the one hand, panic-buying led to an initial bounce in domestic sales. On the other, our export markets all but closed resulting in reduced sales, increased freight and operating costs, and significantly reduced profits.

“Now, we’re starting to see a nice bounce in several of these same markets: France, Italy, Spain, Germany and even the Far East are all open again. There’s a long way to go but the business is in profit and as such we feel the money received via the Job Retention Scheme would be better served invested in the country’s essential services and recovery,” concluded the Managing Director.


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