Vistgate Limited aquires majority interest in W Stevenson and Sons Limited

Vistgate Limited, a leading UK fish processor based in Cornwall, has today acquired a majority interest in the operator of one of Europe’s largest beam trawl fleets and Newlyn market auctioneers, W Stevenson and Sons Limited. The Directors of Vistgate, which trades as Ocean Fish and supplies large UK and European retail and wholesale customers, have welcomed the transaction as being a significant step towards a dynamic improvement of the supply and catch sector.

Leigh Genge, Managing Director of Ocean Fish said “The Lakeman and Stevenson families hold very similar views on the importance of maintaining a vibrant and prosperous fishing industry in Cornwall. We see this transaction as achieving a long-held ambition of bringing both families together to deliver this goal”.

He further details how the investment represents a significant opportunity to ensure that there exists a long-term supply to both Ocean Fish and the wider industry in Newlyn. “As a Board we are very positive about the health benefits of eating seafood as part of a balanced diet and believe that there is clear evidence of increasing consumer demand for this protein. The acquisition will help us in ensuring that Ocean Fish has a platform for continual development by offering a consistency in volume, range and quality of fish into UK and Worldwide markets. We feel that Ocean Fish represents the best outcome for the local industry in terms of the long-term prosperity of Newlyn and we look forward to engaging with all fisherman and stakeholders to implement the required changes to this proud and historic business”.

He continues; “our investment clearly underpins the importance of Newlyn as the UK’s prime white fish port and we look forward to working with Newlyn Pier and Harbour Commissioners to agree a programme of market modernisation measures that will facilitate new tonnage and sustainable fish prices for local fisherman.  We will also be taking time to consider the programme of capital investment required in both existing and new vessels to ensure that W Stevenson & Sons is well placed to be a success for future generations and creates new and exciting employment opportunities for young people in the industry”.

Peter Aylott, CEO of Stevenson’s states that “the business is an historic and fundamental part of the Cornish fishing industry and the investment from Ocean Fish will make an exciting future for the largest beam trawler fleet in the United Kingdom and the prosperity of Newlyn as a UK fishing community.  We look forward to working with Ocean Fish to generate a unique organisation bringing together two of Cornwall’s proudest catching and trading companies.”

Vistgate was supported throughout the transaction by Michelmores LLP and KPMG, together with funding from both HSBC and RBS. Stevenson’s were supported by Foot Anstey and FRP Advisory.