The largest fishing and processing group in New Zealand is taking shape as Sealord awaits clearance from the Commerce Commission and consent from the Overseas Investment Office to acquire Independent Fisheries – with the acquisition data depending on conditions being met.
It’s the largest transaction in the New Zealand seafood sector since 1992 and the Sealord deal, which was part of the Māori Treaty Settlement. The deal is set to make Sealord into the largest seafood business in New Zealand.
‘The business is an excellent fit for Sealord both operationally and culturally. Independent Fisheries has a strong family-based culture built over many years by the late Charles Shadbolt, who had a passion for looking after his people and the wider community, and I am confident that Sealord can continue this proud tradition,’ said Sealord CEO Doug Paulin.
According to Sealord, Independent Fisheries will continue to be operated by its current workforce within the Sealord Group.
Independent Fisheries was founded by Howard Shadbolt and had its beginnings as a small fish and chip shop in the Christchurch suburb of Linwood in 1956. Since that time and under the management of the late Charles Shadbolt (Howard’s son) and Mark Allison, Independent Fisheries has grown into one of New Zealand’s major privately-owned fishing businesses, with New Zealand’s fourth largest deepwater quota.
Independent Fisheries managing director Mark Allison said the decision made by the board of directors and the owners will enhance the future growth of the company.
‘This is a proud moment for our business and for its founding family, who have built it from its humble beginnings to the successful company it is today,’ he said.
‘There are immediate synergies that Independent Fisheries and the Sealord Group of companies can utilise both internally and externally that will provide excellent opportunities for the existing staff, customers, and suppliers to grow with the Sealord Group. In practical terms this means streamlining catch plans, logistics and innovation, with an emphasis on loyal customer service, which has been the backbone of Independent Fisheries business since its establishment.’
Based in Christchurch, Independent Fisheries has around 46,000 tonnes of various quotas and operates one owned vessel and two under charter. It has approximately 500 staff and crew on its payroll, and has its own cold storage facilities.
‘Our investment in Independent Fisheries is based on a strong belief in the business, the long-term sustainability of the commercial fishing sector in New Zealand and the ability to deliver increased returns to Sealord’s shareholders, half of whom are iwi,’ stated Sealord board chair Jamie Tuuta, commenting that Sealord is an inter-generational fishing company and the purchase of Independent Fisheries further cements this position for the long term.
‘Māori have a strong affinity with the moana, kaimoana and fishing. The fisheries settlement allocating iwi ownership of quota, including through the purchase of 50% of Sealord, underpins that cultural value system. This transaction grows iwi quota ownership, enhancing our strong connection with the moana in Aotearoa.’