Smoked salmon processor sold to Estonian food firm

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Smoked salmon firm John Ross Jr was bought by PRFoods
Smoked salmon firm John Ross Jr was bought by PRFoods

Related tags: Salmon, Seafood

John Ross Jr, the Scottish smoked salmon producer, has been sold to PRFoods, a food production company based in Finland and Estonia.

The acquisition of the Aberdeen-based business includes Coln Valley Smokery, an award-winning smoked salmon business in the English Cotswolds, which was bought by the JRJ Group in 2009.

Listed on the Tallinn Stock Exchange since 2010, PRFoods is the largest manufacturer of fish in Estonia and one of the largest fish producers in Finland.

Fine food products

John Ross Jr, which produces smoked salmon and fine food products, was founded by Andrew Leigh in 1987.

The business, which has held a Royal Warrant for more than 20 years and counts Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco as well as top-end restaurants and hotels among its clients, described the transaction as giving a majority exit for the Leigh family, with next generation family members Vicky Leigh-Pearson and Chris Leigh continuing in senior roles and as shareholders in the group.

Jonathan Buxton, partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance, said his firm was delighted to advise on the sale which had allowed shareholders to realise the “significant value that had been created, whilst also enabling family succession and creating a platform for future growth”​.

‘Significant value’

“The sale of the John Ross Group adds to Cavendish’s extensive track record in selling both luxury and branded food and beverage businesses, including recent transactions such as the sale of Naked Wines to Majestic,”​ he said.

Andrew Leigh added: “I never imagined we would end up with an Estonian buyer but there is an excellent fit with PRFoods, which will be good for John Ross, our customers and suppliers and for Chris and Vicky.”

Meanwhile, last month it was revealed that sea lice and the effect of Brexit on international trade relationships were among the major challenges​ that might hinder the growth of the Scottish fish and shellfish market.

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