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Nueva Pescanova CEO outlines ambitious plans for company's future

With a revamped brand, a capital increase and a listing with US mega-retailer Walmart, CEO is more optimistic than ever, he tells IntraFish.

It's been a long saga for Spanish multinational giant Pescanova, but Ignacio Gonzalez, CEO of the company that rose from its ashes -- Nueva Pescanova -- told IntraFish at the Brussels Seafood Expo he believes the group is finally on a path toward success.

The group's new strategic plan will move forward following the a capital increase approved recently by the board of directors, which Gonzalez called "two sides of the same coin."

“One could not happen without the other; so the board's approval of the capital increase is a triggering point to proceed with the company's plans,” Gonzalez said.

Though shareholders of old Pescanova warned they would go to court to oppose the capital increase because it reduced their stake in the new group, nothing has so far been filed, paving the way for the company to move forward.

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With the capital increase the group reduced its debt by €350 million ($382.2 million), giving it new strength to grow. Since the takeover of the group by lenders, the company has reduced its debt burden to €800 million ($873.6 million), Gonzalez said.

Nueva Pescanova kept the Pescanova brand due to its success and the positive recognition it has in its main markets, but it recently changed the logo to modernize and compete on the international market.

“The Pescanova brand is old, we wanted to rejuvenate it on all levels, communications, convenience, novelty, and compete in a consumption market where we have never been before,” Gonzalez said.

The company is opening to new product lines that are more consumer friendly, such as the Dippeo range, a tray of peeled, boiled and ready-to-eat shrimp with different sauces targeting a complete different public.

"The new value-added product is great for parties, is already cooked and peeled, is fun to eat, is consumer friendly, it can compete with products such as nachos," he said.

Among its recent wins, the company secured a listing with Walmart -- the holy grail for suppliers looking to get into the United States.

At the moment, 40 percent of the company’s production comes from aquaculture, of which 85 percent is vannamei from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. The rest is turbot from Spain and Portugal and tilapia from Brazil.

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Worldwide, aquaculture makes for 50 percent of fish production, so Nueva Pescanova “lags behind the global trend in this sense,” but is heavily investing in research and development in this field.

Construction of a new R&D center slated to start in June, and is aimed at helping bridge the gap.

“We need more species, the R&D facilities will be good for research, and will support aquaculture projects and programs, but its raison d'être is to help us improve and gain position in the market,” Gonzalez said.

“Aquaculture is set to grow, population growth is a clear sign that we will need more protein, and it doesn’t seem like that surplus is going to come from the meat industry.”

The investments in R&D will have to make sense strategically; the company will look at species that present more farming opportunities, and also those that have a higher demand.

Sole and grouper are interesting fish due to the strong interest from consumers in Nueva Pescanova’s markets, and the company will conduct studies on the farming conditions and possibilities for expansion into these species.

Nueva Pescanova also has projects for its fishing operations, which make up for 60 percent of the company’s activity.

“Soon we will start conversations for the renewal of the fleet, in which we are going to invest €42 million [$45.9 million],” Gonzalez told IntraFish.

“The main idea is to replace and fix the oldest vessels, a great part of the investment will go to our fleets in Namibia and Mozambique,” Gonzalez said.

For the fleet renewal, Nueva Pescanova will study options with different shipyards, but Gonzalez hopes the company can work with Vigo’s shipyards for the plans.

“We will have to go with the shipyard that offers the best opportunity and the one that makes sense from a business point of view, but we would like to collaborate with Spanish shipyards, and if they are from Vigo, even better.”


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