Jonas Seafood factory in Cromer in talks with major supermarkets
07:00 14 April 2014
Archant Norfolk 2014
Crab and lobsters from north Norfolk waters could be sold across Britain within months following talks between a Cromer factory and two major supermarkets.
Since Jonas Seafood, off Holt Road, opened in August last year, it has gone from employing 22 full-time staff to 45 people and opening a shop on the factory site.
It was opened by former East Runton fisherman Kevin Jonas and business partner Nick Samujlik, who had worked for the old Cromer Crab Company for 22 years.
The Cromer Crab Company shut down in August 2012 with the loss of 230 jobs.
Mr Jonas, managing director, said: “Crabs are synonymous with Cromer. I feel proud of what we have achieved.
“We have got a long way to go. It would have been easy not to make the jump but we wanted to do it for ourselves and the guys that work for us.”
He said the business was important to him because he came from a fishing family.
The factory currently processes 1,500 crabs per day and is expected to process 60,000-70,000 lobsters a year.
Stocks come from 35 boats from Brancaster and Wells to Mundesley and staff currently work all year round Monday to Friday.
“Working 52 weeks a year means you have continuity of staff. It is a skilled job and we don’t want to lose them,” Mr Jonas added.
The crabs and lobsters are currently sold to 15,000 businesses across the country through M & J Seafood, owned by Brakes catering firm. It has also supplied to the top 100 Budgens stores in Britain since November.
Talks have started with two supermarkets, which cannot yet be identified for business reasons, and Jonas Seafood could be supplying one of the food giants within two to three months.
“After the Cromer Crab Company shut Cromer had lost its place in the national market. It has taken time to build to that level but we are getting there slowly and steadily,” Mr Jonas said.
Despite being approached by China the company wants to focus on national sales and since it opened it has invested £500,000 in factory technology.
Mr Jonas and Mr Samujlik, from Cromer, said the expected turnover for the first year was £1.6m.
The shop, which is a “showcase” for the food processed in the factory, is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am-2pm.
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