Seafood firm Kirwin Brothers back in the black as ‘strong rebound in demand’ boosts sales

Grimsby wholesale fish merchants Kirwin Brothers Ltd has reported a “strong rebound in demand” post lockdown as eating out came back on the family menu, returning it to profit.

The staycation trend has also seen seaside visits soar, with the nation’s favourite takeaway a coastal must for many.

Sales were up more than five per cent to £16.1 million, from £15.3 million with a robust return from red to black from an £812,000 loss.

Read more: King’s Dish rolls out Grimsby’s traditional smoked fish to town customers

Lea Kirwin, director, said: “The year was once again challenging, dominated by continued social and economic unpredictability around the coronavirus pandemic, sharply fluctuating customer demand, along with volatile raw material supplies and prices.

“Thanks to careful management of these issues, the directors are pleased to report a pre-tax profit of £183,927 for the year.

“Results since have been encouraging, with a strong rebound in demand but tempered by a resurgence of material prices, uncertain supplies and a competitive labour market.”

He said he remained cautious about the medium-term outlook, but was confident in the company’s depth of management, experience, organisation, flexibility and “potential to prosper in the long term.”

The year to June 30 2021 had been dogged by two further lockdowns, having seen the entire last quarter of the previous year virtually wiped out – including the rich pickings of Easter – a traditional fish feast still observed by millions.

Sales for the cod and haddock specialist slumped £7.5 million in 2020 – to a 12 year low of £15.3 million – down from 2019’s £22.8 million. Staff numbers have also dropped from 100 to 65 through the pandemic.

The Covid measures, twinned with a significant bad debt, led to the 2020 hit for the North Quay business that harbours plans to move to a vacant site on Grimsby’s South Humberside Industrial Estate.

From a contract filleting business launched in 1983, Kirwin has become one of the larger family-owned entities operating in the UK seafood capital.

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