A sea of blue This is the overwhelming impression on entering the premises of Lerøy Seafood Center in the Dutch fishing town of Urk. Everything is blue: the massive ventilation pipes in the ceiling, the conveyor belt, the robust concrete floor – even the employees’ workwear. And the main product, the pinky-orange salmon that is the basis for most of what happens here, really stands out against all that blue.
During 2019, just over 3000 tonnes of fish in the form of smoked salmon slices left the factory for destinations all over the world. Or as prepacked fresh fish for grocery stores in the local area. 2019 was the first full year of production for the factory, which opened in 2018, the fifth Lerøy factory in the Netherlands.
“We have the potential to increase production much more. This year, we expect to produce between 4000 and 5000 tonnes, but in the long term we could produce 15,000 tonnes a year here, doubling production in the Netherlands,” says Tjeerd Hoekstra, CEO of Rodé Vis, the subsidiary that runs the Dutch factories. He’s been with Rodé Vis for over 25 years and, in the same way as Norwegians are born with skis on their feet, people from Urk are born with fish scales. Hoekstra is no exception:
“The passion for fish and fish production has always been there, and both my father and grandfather worked in the industry. I started on the factory floor and I know the entire production process well, so the factory workers and I speak the same language. And I recognise the quality of the products when I’m on the factory floor – I don’t need to ask,” he points out. He talks us through his working day as an engaged CEO:
Built for the future
Not only is the business in the Netherlands large with its five factories, the new factory is also much larger than the current production volume requires:
“Lerøy Seafood Center has been built for the future,” emphasises Ivar Wulff, COO Sales and Distribution, from Lerøy’s head office in Bergen. He explains that the new factory is streamlined for optimally efficient production of smoked fish on the one side and prepacked fresh seafood on the other, quite literally.
“Yes, the premises are large with plenty of open space so we can easily change the production line and configuration. This is an investment in the future – it’s as simple as that.”