March was a winning month for Aquascot.
The Scottish salmon processor Aquascot has likely seen a lot of changes in the industry since it was founded in 1987. But not like this.
Hard at work
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Alness-based (Scotland), supplier to the British high-end retailers Waitrose and Ocado has been hard at work.
Aquascot Head of Commercial Andy Wilson told SalmonBusiness that March’s sales increase was in the ballpark region of around 25 per cent.
“Our increase in sales comes on the back of the UK lockdown as many families are now eating up to three meals a day at home which is providing the retail sector with a great opportunity,” he said.
“We are fully mindful that this gain is at the expense of businesses in the foodservice sector and, no one really knows how quickly or effectively that sector will recover as the COVID restrictions start to reduce during the coming months,” added Wilson.
He said that the company was managing its operation and financial planning using the “precautionary principle” and was using additional sales revenue to ensure we do the best by the Aquascot personnel”.
In a similar model to its customer Waitrose (whose parent company is John Lewis Partnership) which is owned by a trust on behalf of all its employees, Aquascot is 100% employee-owned.
Wilson said that the figure for the 4-week growth of the UK retail market had risen GBP 8.3m year on year through March as customers face up to life in ‘lockdown’.
“However, the profile of those purchasing fish still has room for improvement with younger consumers still lower in number. Healthy foods that feed the brain and heart, like omega 3 rich Scottish salmon and other healthy options, may potentially be more sought after by consumers whose consciences may have been pricked by the current crisis. Time will tell of course,” he added.
Delivering on such an increase in demand in the current circumstances was not easy, he explained. “This increased volume has not been without challenge as social distancing has seen changes required across our processing sites. Signage, floor markings, physical dividers and PPE all play a part in keeping our partners safe as they take on the challenge of providing healthy nutritious food for customers. Partner safety will always be our number one priority,” concluded Wilson.