Seattle Fish Company, based in Denver, Colorado, USA, was sold to Armand Agra, a subsidiary of the Founders Group of Food Companies.
The Nov. 15 sale — terms of which have not been released — puts Seattle Fish Co. under the umbrella of a regional specialty meat and seafood retailer, itself owned by a family-owned business focused on food and beverage manufacturers and distributors. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the group of food company founders includes Armand Agra, Purewater Foods, Presteve Foods and Ganache Gourmet.
Armand Agra has offices in Reno and Carson City, Nevada, and Seattle, Washington, USA and operates Sierra Meat and Seafood, Durham Ranches, McDonald Meat Co. and Flocchini Family Provisions.
In a Nov. 15 announcement, the Founders Group of Food Companies said it is “committed to helping grow the SFC business” after the acquisition. He said he would retain current Seattle Fish Company president and CEO Derek Figueroa, along with chief financial officer Pete McClure and chief operating officer Hamish Walker, along with all current employees of the company.
“Our goal is to be the most sought-after branded specialty protein experience in North America. Seattle Fish helps us achieve this goal by adding considerable expertise in the seafood category and a strong presence in the Rocky Mountain region, serving both retail and foodservice,” said the vice president of Armand Agra, Chris Flocchini, in a press release.
With the Founders Group’s additional resources and network, Seattle Fish Company will be able to offer more products, like high-quality, sustainable meats, in the future, Figueroa said.
“Armand Agra’s investment preserves Seattle Fish’s rich heritage while providing the resources, collaboration and scale needed to grow our brand,” Figueroa said. “For more than 103 years, Seattle Fish Company has been committed with its partners to providing high quality seafood throughout the [U.S.] Midwest. I look forward to working with Armand Agra and our employees to realize our aspiration to lead the growth of sustainable seafood consumption. Our commitment will be to continue the legacy started by the Iacino family, led and nurtured by our entire team. , in the future.
Founded in 1918 by Mose Iacino, who received fresh fish packed in sawdust and ice transported by railcar from Seattle, the company was run by Iacino’s grandson, James Iacino, until 2019 , at which time he resigned as CEO to run. the United States House of Representatives, which ultimately failed. The Iacino family “has now decided to permanently focus on new ventures,” according to the press release.
The acquisition preserves Seattle Fish’s legacy while immediately providing additional resources to enable future growth plans, according to Armand Agra President and Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis.
“I’m thrilled to have another great company with a long history and a track record of serving customers with passion and excellence join us,” said Ellis.
Seattle Fish Company currently supplies more than 1,400 restaurants and retailers, primarily located in the Rocky Mountain and Midwestern regions of the United States, with fresh and frozen, wild-caught and farm-raised seafood. The company “is dedicated to promoting sustainable fishing practices, including supporting local aquaculture farms, as well as fishing improvement projects around the world, ensuring that seafood as that healthy protein is available to all, for generations to come”, and is one of 10 members of the Sea Pact pre-competitive collaboration, which seeks to promote sustainable practices throughout the seafood supply chain in United States. Seattle Fish Co. was named to SeafoodSource’s Top 25: Sustainability and Conservation List for 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis initially had a significant economic impact on Seattle Fish Co., which lost about half of its revenue after the pandemic initially hit the United States. The company has turned to the retail sector, partnering with a range of private label seafood options for grocery stores and boosting e-commerce offerings for its retail customers, and associate with more local producers.
“The shift in our industry and the resulting changes in consumer behavior spurred by COVID have demonstrated that Seattle Fish can play a leading role in how we provide essential and responsible nutrition to our communities,” said declared Figueroa in December 2020.
Figueroa was named president of the National Fisheries Institute, America’s largest seafood trade group, in January, and said he was taking over at a “pivotal time of [the seafood] industry.”
“I have worked in the seafood industry for 30 years. We saw tensions in terms of labour, wages and costs. These are areas that are ripe for investments in technology such as forecasting, supply chain visibility and traceability,” Figueroa said. “It’s an opportunity to engage customers and reduce costs.”
Figueroa said SeafoodSource Seattle Fish Co. customers won’t notice any immediate changes from the sale.
“Our first priority is to ensure business continuity and continue to deliver the same great experience to our employees, customers, suppliers and community partners,” he said. “Beginning in January 2022, we will seek opportunities to leverage the capabilities and core expertise of the respective groups within Armand Agra to determine the most beneficial way to deliver increased value to our customers. Specific plans will be developed over the coming months as we have meaningful conversations with our customers. »
The transaction is strategic for Seattle Fish Company, Figueroa said.
“We maintain family ownership and a buy-and-hold investment strategy, which allows us to retain the culture and heritage we have built over the past 103 years. In the longer term, the sale to Armand Agra provides access to high-quality protein at the source, increased financial and operational resources, greater scale, an integrated and broad offer for customers and the possibility of grow the Seattle Fish brand,” Figueroa said. . “Looking forward, Seattle Fish will continue to operate as a trusted gourmet and seafood company in our established region. The exact specifics of our growth trajectory are yet to be determined. However, we are committed to growing the Seattle Fish brand. Company – now with greater resources.
The investment from the Founders Group of Food Companies and the sharing of resources among the other closely related food companies within the Founders Group network will help Seattle Fish Co. continue to transition into the post-pandemic economy, according to Founders Richard Harris , group partner and executive chairman of Armand Agra.
“We’ve been building Armand Agra with Chris Flocchini and Flocchini Family Holdings since 2017, and we’re thrilled to have Seattle Fish Company and Derek Figueroa and his team join our group,” Harris said. “This investment is significant and increases the size and scale of Armand Agra more than twice since our initial investment in Sierra Meat & Seafood four years ago. Along with Founders’ very recent investment in Walt’s Wholesale Meats, this transaction allows Founders to go even further into specialty proteins and build a broad portfolio through our Purewater Foods platform, which will be our primary focus going forward. the future.
Photo courtesy of Seattle Fish Company