National | Māori

Sealord: Ka pū te ruha, ka tuku ki te wai ko te kupenga hōu

An IT upgrade and a poor fishing season hit Sealord hard but it’s about to become NZ’s biggest seafood company

Sealord, which Māori have a 50 percent stake in through Moana NZ, reported a net loss of $4.1 million in the 12 months ended September 30, its first in 10 years.

Sealord’s previous loss was in 2013 after selling off its unprofitable Argentinian unit for an undisclosed amount, ending a two-year effort to find a buyer and avoiding bankruptcy of the business.

Its current losses are being put down to the $9.7m cost for software from cloud company Infor in 2022 to improve Sealord’s productivity and forecasting and better measure sustainability. The platform went live in November last year.

Sealord’s annual report also stated its fishing unit lost $6.3 million in the year due to deep-sea catches being below par, a decline in barramundi farming, the poorest squid season in a decade and one of its largest vessels being out of operation during the hoki season.

But its aquaculture unit reported a record profit of $9.2 million, with strong demand for its Petuna salmon and ocean trout. The company was planning “another record year for aquaculture on the back of successful expansion projects completed in 2023 at Petuna’s Rowella farm and Cressy hatchery in Tasmania.”.

Sealord is about to become the country’s biggest seafood company once it completes a buyout of privately-owned Independent Fisheries in Lyttleton.

The Commerce Commission cleared the deal in November last year and it will be the largest financial transaction in the seafood sector since Māori acquired Sealord as part of a Treaty settlement in 1992.

Sealord will increase its existing quota by 46,000 tonnes, along with two owned and one chartered deepwater fishing vessel, 500 crew, and a cold storage facility.

Moana NZ will subscribe to $20m of new shares with its partner Nissui to help Sealord buy Independent Fisheries, which will continue to be operated by its current employees.

Completion of the deal will be dependent on when conditions and approvals are met.