Hans J Marter
18 April, 2008
TWO FORMER employees of failed Shetland cod farmers No Catch have bought the
group's organic sea trout business.
Former No Catch operations director Gordon Johnson and the company's production
manager Robert Williamson have paid a six figure sum to buy the business from
administrators Grant Thornton.
Their new company QA Fish Ltd acquired a sea farm at Aith Voe East, freshwater
facilities in the Loch of Strom and Loch of Brouster as well as 125,000 sea
trout in different stages of maturity.
Fish presently in cages at Mangaster Voe will continue to be harvested from that
site as part of a contract with Scottish Sea Farms.
The company will continue contracting Paul Featherstone to produce juvenile fish
for ongrowing. Mr Featherstone has pioneered the farming of sea trout at his
Two former No Catch employees will transfer to QA Fish, while Mr Williamson will
continue to be employed by the administrators for another year to oversee the
ongrowing of cod still in cages.
Speaking from his office in Trondra yesterday (Thursday), Mr Johnson said: "I
always had a keen interest in the product and I am convinced Shetland sea trout
has significant business potential.
"This is a small niche product and I would describe our operation more as sea
crofting rather than sea farming."
QA Fish will employ five or six people including the owners’ wives Julie Johnson
and Arlene Williamson who are also company directors. QA stands for 'quality
Fifty two year old Mr Johnson worked with No Catch and its predecessor Johnson
Seafarms for four years between March 2003 and July last year. Previously he had
been the principal of the North Atlantic Fisheries College, in Scalloway.
He added that he was looking forward to running a small, specialised fish
farming company that was in need of "personal touch and attention". The company
is in negotiations to get the brand name Shetland Sea Trout trademarked.
QA Fish will continue with sales to established customers the length and breadth
of the country, and is also investigating new product lines such as cold and hot
Mr Johnson stressed that no public money had gone into the acquisition of the
company from the administrators.
Daniel Smith, of Grant Thornton, said: "We are delighted to have achieved this
sale of the business as a going concern, particularly as it follows rapidly on
the sale of the majority of the operating assets of the No Catch Group to a
consortium comprising of Scottish Sea Farms Ltd and Hjaltland Seafarms UK on 10
No Catch went into administration on 18 February with debts of more than £40