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Outlook 2017: Young’s Seafood Interim CEO Bill Showalter

Exec discusses success of the Gastro range, currency challenges of Brexit and investments in foodservice and exports operations.

Bill Showalter, interim chief executive of Young’s Seafood Limited, and CEO and CFO of Young’s Seafood International Holdings, talks to IntraFish about the past year and what's to come for the UK seafood giant in 2017.

What were the three most significant developments for your business in the seafood industry in 2016?

At a consumer level, retailers’ frozen sections have seen a trend towards more premium offerings over the past year, and we have had a great year in that category with our Gastro range. The nation’s favorite premium fish brand has doubled in size in 18 months, becoming a £60 million (€70.4 million/$73.7 million) brand. Gastro is now twice the size of the nearest branded competitor.

In retailers, we've seen a changing landscape where more want a strong own brand beside a single, branded offer and they want to work with partners that can offer both.

At an industry level, all UK seafood businesses will have been affected by Brexit and the knock-on effects to foreign exchange. Chilled raw material supply dynamics have added to this and all businesses have seen inflation across the sector.

Looking ahead, what will be the three most important developments in 2017?

The businesses that succeed will be those that can adapt to the new environment. We have been preparing for this by looking after our core and making investments in export and foodservice that lay the groundwork to build on our strengths in 2017.

The weaker pound means our products are competitive abroad where our expertise and heritage give us a genuine point of difference. In foodservice, our Young’s for Chefs brand offers quality and innovative meal solutions that show we are the most creative, and most in touch with the needs of operators.

It will continue to be important that we work closely with retailers to negate the impact of inflation as much as possible and continue to bring consumers the best possible products, at competitive prices.

Healthy, responsibly sourced food will remain important to consumers, which is good news for fish processors like us. After all, it’s our belief that a fish loving nation is a healthier, happier nation.

What changes and developments do you expect your business to undergo next year?

We are excited to build on the success of Gastro and you’ll see our range supported on TV in the New Year. We will continue to focus on growth and innovation in both our core brand and own label businesses and we expect to see results from our investments in foodservice and in exports.

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