Canadian family buys Wanchese

Published 8:11 pm Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Canadian family company has purchased a prominent family company in Suffolk — Wanchese Fish Company.

In a news release, the Cooke family, which owns Cooke Aquaculture, announced that the deal involves the creation of a new company, Cooke Seafood USA Inc.

“This purchase is an exciting venture for us as we add a well-respected, family owned and vertically integrated fishing company to our family’s businesses,” stated Glenn Cooke, Cooke Seafood CEO.

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“We have found many similarities in our corporate cultures, not only a strong focus on family values but also on investment in well-managed and third party-certified fisheries … that are core to our family’s business philosophy.”
Reached by phone, Nell Halse, spokeswoman for Cooke Seafood, declined to disclose the terms of the deal. “We don’t disclose the purchase price on any of our deals, because we are a private company,” she said.

According to the release, Wanchese Fish Company has “grown to become a leading supplier of seafood products in North America and Europe” after its formation in 1936.

The vertically integrated seafood harvester, processor and distributor has the annual capacity to harvest more than 4,000 tons of wild scallops, flounder and other seafood.

Its 15-vessel fleet can process seafood while out at sea, and technology the Daniels family introduced in the late 1990s produces the “Wanchese Scallop Medallion,” a high-demand scallop product.”

The Daniels family opened Suffolk Cold Storage at Suffolk’s Northgate Commerce Park, with a state-of-the-art fish processing plant, cold storage facility and corporate office, to meet growing demand, according to the news release.

“When my grandfather started Wanchese Fish Company in 1936, he never imagined his grandchildren would harvest and distribute seafood on a global level,” stated Sam Daniels, president of Wanchese Fish Company.

“The Lord has blessed us tremendously and we believe this deal with the Cooke family, another company built on trust and commitment to quality, will strengthen our company, provide stability for our employees, and enhance the product offerings to our customers.”

According to the Cooke family, the purchase is consistent with its focus on vertical integration and efforts to diversify geographically and in terms of products and markets.
“The Cooke family’s strategy has been to achieve growth through acquisitions and organic growth in the seafood sector that is both sustainable and responsibly managed to meet market demand,” according to the news release.

Halse said she believes there are 440 employees at Wanchese, which will now be known as Cooke Seafood USA.

“We are at the stage of having just signed the agreement today, and the Cooke family is there introducing themselves to employees,” she said Friday.

“We don’t expect any major changes right away. There may be some synergies with other (Cooke family) companies,” but the family needs to familiarize itself with the Wanchese operations first.