A 150-year Old Family Business, Headquartered in Oman, the W.J. Towell Group Operates Across Several Verticals and, as Part of Its Growth Objectives, Through Its Fmcg Vertical (Enhance Group), Acquired Gulf Seafood in Q3 2015.
Gulf Seafood is a foodservice-focused frozen seafood processing company, with a vision to be the best-in-class, providing quality frozen seafood to the HoReCa segment and private label brands in the MENA region, and cooked shrimp and freeze- dried shrimp in North America.Richard Pereira, Chief Operating Officer – Manufacturing, Enhance Group (Gulf Seafood)
The company has a growing focus on sustainable and value-added seafood. Despite the sector witnessing a value decline over the last five years, driven primarily by lower commodity prices globally, Gulf Seafood has been able to outperform the industry, delivering a positive revenue CAGR in a challenging market.
“This growth came from our penetration into new markets across the GCC and beyond, securing long-term contracts within the catering segment and expanding our private-label business,”Richard Pereira
Gulf Seafood currently exports to all GCC countries, USA, Canada, Mexico, Maldives, and Mauritius. It is presently looking to expand into the Arab League countries, and would also like to explore Israel as a potential opportunity.
A Consistent ‘A’ Rating
Gulf Seafood provides a wide range of frozen seafood products. These include wild-caught and farmed shrimp, wild-caught fish (Black Cod, Chilean Seabass, Cod, Pollock, Red Snapper, Spanish Mackerel, Barramundi, Nile Perch, Haddock, Tuna), farmed fish species (Salmon, Pangasius), warm water and cold water lobsters, wild-caught crab (Alaskan King Crab, Jonah Crab, Blue Swimming Crab), wild-caught octopus and squid, wild scallops and cultured mussels.
“We source our portfolio from across the world through a trusted network of high- quality primary processorsPereira
“Our customers are mostly premium hotels, restaurants and catering companies. They value the fact that we deliver a product that consistently meets their specifications so that their customers can enjoy exactly the same product on their plates every time they dine at their establishments.”
Delivering that product takes special attention to quality and food safety, and that is what makes Gulf Seafood stand out amongst its competition. This is also reflected in the fact that Dubai Municipality, customers and certification bodies (BRCC, FSSC) have given the company a consistent ‘A’ rating year after year in the annual audit process. Gulf Seafood, through its annual customer service survey, established that 86% of its customers rate its product and service quality better or much better than its competitors. That is a level of trust that is quite exceptional. To top that, 75% of customers have been with the company for at least two years or more, and 40% for more than five years.
Gulf Seafood is very conscious of its impact on the environment and, to lower its carbon footprint, has implemented several energy-saving initiatives, resulting in a reduction of its carbon footprint by 14% in 2019 versus 2018. To further capitalise on those gains, in January 2020 the company commissioned a rooftop solar installation at its site in Jafza, which has already helped Gulf Seafood to further reduce its carbon footprint by another 20% so far this year.
“Other initiatives over the years have included moving all of our plastic bags to Oxy biodegradable plastic, ensuring that the company does its part in ensuring that dangerous plastic does not find its way into the oceans. Furthermore, to minimise our wastewater discharge, we have invested in an on-site effluent treatment plant that allows us to obtain irrigation standard water, which we now use to irrigate the lawn outside of our facility in Jafza,”
A Clear Advantage
Gulf Seafood was one of the first companies to begin operations in Jafza, and being based there has been one of the cornerstones of its success, with Pereira commenting: “The superior quality of infrastructure, the transparent and super-efficient administration, the simplicity and ease of doing business has been an absolute boon for the company.”
As a food processing company within Jafza, Gulf Seafood has also had to comply with the very demanding health and safety standards that the free zone and EHS expect from it. This has helped it to raise its standards continuously.
Gulf Seafood currently exports to all GCC countries, USA, Canada, Mexico, Maldives and Mauritius
Moreover, being located within the port area has allowed Gulf Seafood to be able to import and export its products with speed and agility. It has lowered its costs of operation and provided access to DP World’s reliable cold storage facilities and clearing and forwarding services. Benefits such as these can rarely be quantified but go a long way in allowing businesses to become efficient.
Riding Out the Storm
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been crippling for Gulf Seafood,” Pereira explains. “As a foodservice-focused business, we have been severely affected by the impact the pandemic has had on the hospitality and travel industry. With an 80% reduction in sales, we have had to respond positively and swiftly to engage with all of our stakeholders and build contingencies”
“The company remains extremely grateful for the support and the vision of its shareholders, the W.J. Towell Group. They recognised the emerging challenges and supported the management team to work towards alternative scenarios that allowed Gulf Seafood to retain its entire team during this crisis instead of forced layoffs and retrenchment. Retaining our team has also allowed us to be flexible in responding faster to the changing circumstances”,
Consequently, Gulf Seafood is in a very favourable position when it comes to riding out the effects of the current pandemic, and can look forward with confidence to a continually evolving and prosperous future.