December 10 2013 Latest news:
Friday, August 30, 2013
Cheers and applause rung out in Cromer tonight when a new factory opened its doors - signalling the welcome return of large scale crab processing to the town.
Local fisherman Kevin Jonas was joined by scores of guests to launch his new crab and lobster venture, which is hoped will put Cromer’s famous edible export back on the national map following the closure of the town’s large seafood factory last year.
The Cromer Crab Company shut down in August 2012 with the loss of 230 jobs and left a void on the north Norfolk coast, which the new Jonas Seafood factory is hoping to fill.
Mr Jonas, who comes from a family of fisher and trawlermen, has long wanted to expand his existing East Runton business, and following the closure of Cromer Crab he saw his opportunity and set about moving into his new premises in Stonehill Way.
He teamed up with business partner Nick Samujlik, who worked at the former Cromer Crab company, and together with support from the district council they secured funding from the Marine Management Organisation - which stumped up 40pc of the costs - to get the scheme off the ground.
And after months of work to convert the former Beer Seller warehouse, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb cut the ribbon to officially open the factory, which will begin production on Monday.
Mr Jonas said: “It’s a challenge but it’s exciting. It’s something I have wanted to do for many, many years. People are excited and the town’s right behind it.”
Mr Jonas established his East Runton business in 1995 and used to supply his catch to the Cromer Crab Company.
He thought the town’s famous crustacean had been lost on a national level since the closure of the Holt Road factory, but was pleased to now be putting it back on the menu.
“Cromer is known for crab and we haven’t got a large scale factory and the equilibrium of the local industry has been upset by that,” he added. “Until this started there was nothing and we have the capability of bringing that back.”
The new factory will boost production, with up to 300 tonnes of live crab processed each year, as well as jobs.
All of Mr Jonas’ existing 22 staff are moving to the Cromer site and 12 new workers will begin at the factory on Monday, but he is keen to grow his workforce beyond that.
“I’m hoping to pretty quickly double the existing staff up to 40 and then however many we can squeeze in the place, as long as the business is sustainable,” he added.
Supporters were full of praise for the business, with Mr Lamb leading the applause.
Before cutting the ribbon he said: “It’s such a wonderful moment after the really depressing news about the loss of the Cromer Crab factory.
“I remember when the crisis happened, I spoke to the company and discovered the vast bulk (of product) was imported prawns from Asia.
“Here it’s local produce. It’s crab and lobster and we know there’s enormous demand for high quality, local food and this is going to produce it.”
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