Killybegs to benefit from significant €50 million seafood sector investment

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Killybegs to benefit from significant €50 million seafood sector investment

Killybegs to benefit from significant €50 million seafood sector investment
October 09
10:16 2023
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Killybegs in County Donegal, which one of Ireland’s busiest seafood hubs, is to benefit from a total €50 million investment aimed at future-proofing the region’s fish processing sector and maintaining and increasing jobs. Several companies are currently undergoing substantial developments which will modernise seafood processing facilities and add cutting-edge energy efficiency initiatives, according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Two of the businesses making substantial investments, with the support of the Brexit Process Capital Support Scheme, are Gallagher Bros. (Fish Merchants) Ltd and Killybegs Seafoods. Between them they have been allocated the top two highest grants under the scheme, totalling €12.1 million, and are spending a total of €31 million. The scheme, implemented by BIM, was recommended by the Seafood Taskforce established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D.

The €50 million being invested in various Killybegs based companies will make it a more attractive location for fishing vessels to land and discharge catch that might otherwise go to the UK, mainland Europe, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Managing Director of Killybegs Seafoods, John McGuinness, said the company’s total investment is part of a long-term strategy to ensure sustainability of the business, and to maintain employment in the Killybegs region.

“The primary objective of this investment is to bring transformational change to the business, enabling us to process larger volumes of fish more efficiently, and to create capacity for the development of increased value-added produce, primarily mackerel fillets,” said John McGuinness.

John McGuiness said the development addresses key risks the company is currently facing including reduced mackerel quotas, increased energy costs and difficulty in hiring seasonal staff.

“All of these factors have the potential for a significant impact on the company’s performance,” he said. “We would not have embarked on this project without the support of BIM and the Brexit Process Capital Support Scheme. That was the trigger for us to take the plunge.”

Killybegs Seafoods was founded in 1968 by John McGuinness’s father, Sean, grandfather, Josie and two other partners, Seamus Tully and Paddy Gallagher. John and his brothers Eamon and Donal joined the business in the early 1990’s and 2,000’s. During the busy season the business employs 90 local people.

Meanwhile like Killybegs Seafoods Gallagher Bros. (Fish Merchants) is very much a family business. Established more than 100 years ago in 1919 by brothers Jack and Phil Gallagher, it employs 100 staff in the busy season.

Director, Davd Gallagher, a third generation family member, said the multi million euro investment will see a new plant and automation process transform the energy efficiencies within production.

The development is part of Gallagher Bros Project Green Factory Upgrade which will increase the emphasis on further processing of Mackerel and Blue Whiting products.

“We had plans to upgrade before Brexit happened, and everything stalled,” David Gallagher continued “The Brexit Process Capital Support Scheme grant through BIM was the shot in the arm we needed to be more audacious. We are very excited now about the future.

“We will be able to target more premium customers and the automated system will enable a flexibility in production to offer high-quality mackerel fillets.”

Funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), the Brexit Process Capital Support Scheme will deliver up to €45 million in funding to the Irish seafood sector.

BIM CEO, Caroline Bocquel, welcomed the investment in Killybegs, which she said is a very important centre for the fish processing sector in Ireland. “It is vital that our seafood processing companies are innovating and keep up to date with automation technologies and energy efficiencies in order to remain competitive.”

“The Brexit Process Capital Support Scheme is helping fish processors with transformational change, and building more environmentally friendly, sustainable and competitive enterprises.”

She added: “In the wake of reduced supply of raw material, the scheme is vital in supporting capital investments that put an emphasis on “creating more from less”, encouraging processers to produce higher value product and focus on secondary processing and beyond.”

Other seafood processors in Killybegs who make up the total €50 million investment include Norfish Ltd, Premier Fish Products, Donegal Fish, Sean Ward Fish Exports, Island Seafoods and Albatross Seafoods.

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