15 years ago
From the Jan. 26, 2004 edition
Plant manager may become new owner
High Liner offers buy-out option to Bruce Wareham
High Liner Food Inc. has begun discussions with National Seas vice-president of Newfoundland operations, Bruce Wareham for the sale of the plant.
The sale would involve the companies Arnold’s Cove processing plant as well as it’s Newfoundland-based trawler and Newfoundland ground fish quotas. It will also include a formal supply agreement between the plant and High Liner for their key customers.
Wareham has managed the Arnold’s Cove operation for the past 35 years.
“It is the companies preferred option to sell the plant to me,” said Wareham in a prepared statement last week.
“High Liner believes the best future for the Arnold’s Cove operation is to ensure it remains managed by and for Newfoundlanders, and I agree.”
“The company approached me with their preferred intention and I view this development as a positive opportunity. I am now in the process of putting together a business plan for Arnold’s Cove, based on local ownership.”
The sale of the Arnold Cove operation will not happen overnight.
“We are in discussions with the banks and various parties. We are going to try to see if we can bring it all together by the end of March and, hopefully, close the deal sometime later in the year. That is our plan right now,” said Wareham late last week.
He assured there will be no change in the operation of the plant. The 28 work weeks planned for 2004 still stands.
“Actually we are going to work one extra week in February. We won’t stop production until February 28, instead of February 21.”
He could not say how a new ownership would be structured or if it will involve any employees on a shared basis.
“I don’t know yet. We haven’t got that far. Everything is sort of on the table at this point in time. We haven’t nailed down anything definite yet.”
High Liner announced last year it intended to sell the Arnold Cove plant.
“High Liner wants to . . . Concentrate on being a true sales and marketing company,” said Wareham.
The company sold its wet fish operations in Nova Scotia a year ago along with their scallop operation. The Placentia Bay plant is High Liner’s only wet fish operation.
“It’s the commitment of the people here in Arnold’s Cove that has brought us to where we are today. Since the moratorium we continued to operate here. We pulled together, we supported each other, we have a pretty open and honest relationship and everybody marched in the same direction. Hopefully that is going to continue and we will get through this as well.”
“I have asked the people to support me and to stay positive.”
Wareham can already count on the Arnold’s Cove Town Council for support.
“High Liner has been a major employer here in Arnold’s Cove since 1969. While we are disappointed they are leaving the town, they have been good corporate citizens, but we are pleased they are looking at a viable alternative and we think this is the right alternative, said Mayor Tom Osbourne.
Council discussed the potential sale of the plant during its regular meeting last Wednesday.
“We agreed we are fully supportive of his (Wareham’s) effort to put together a business plan and will do whatever we can to support him and help make this work.”
“We are looking at this as being a positive thing. We believe Bruce has the interest of the people and the area at heart. He has proven his leader ship over the years and has taken us through the moratorium. He has gained the trust of the people and has certainly gained our trust and respect as a town council. We believe this is going to work and it is all going to turn out for the better in the long run.”
Osbourne stressed the importance of the plant to the local economy and to the economy of the entire region.
“As sort of a mini service center for this area it is going to have a big impact if anything happens to this plant.”