Norscot Seafoods

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Norscot Seafoods's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Norscot Seafoods is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
Managing Director
The remote harbour of
Norscot Seafoods is a fish wholesaler, specialising in white
and deep-water species. It sources fish from the market
in Kinlochbervie before supplying them across the UK
and northern Europe. Founded in 1972 by Donald Morrison, it
became a limited company in 1984 and soon began expanding
its export reach beyond the UK. Donald tells
The Parliamentary
more about his time in business and how Norscot has
dealt with its geography and Brexit uncertainty.
We are wholesale fish merchants based in Kinlochbervie, a village in northwest
Scotland. We function as a family-run business purchasing fish directly from
a range of vessels and at our local auction, supplying large wholesalers and
processors throughout the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands as well as
multiple supermarkets in France. Seventy-five per cent of our fish is sourced in
Scotland, but we also import some from the Faroe Islands and Iceland. Because of
seasonal change, we employ between ten and 15 staff at any one time and have
our own fleet of refrigerated trucks for the transportation of the fish directly to
Specialists in our niche
The fishing industry has undergone significant change in the last 30 years. Older
and smaller vessels have been replaced with larger vessels that can haul in larger
quantities of fish. There are fewer of them, however, which means that we can buy
fish on a less regular basis. Managing these peaks and troughs can be a challenge,
but in overall volume there hasn’t been a decrease. Today, we buy directly from
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 1972
»Based in Kinlochbervie
»Services: Wholesale fish
»No. of employees: 10 to 15
Norscot Seafoods
Highlighting best practice
between six and eight separate vessels,
while also buying at a local auction.
The export strand of the business
began in 1988 as we began to look
at the potential of new markets and
underutilised species from the deep-
water fishing grounds.
We knew there was a demand for
these types of fish in continental
Europe and we started working with
fleets from Iceland and the Faroe
Islands for fish such as black scabbard,
forkbeard, grenadier and Greenland
halibut. As a result of the changes to
quotas, the larger Scottish vessels have
now established themselves in this
type of fishing too. Although the main
market for these species remains in
continental Europe, it is also beginning
to grow in the UK.
While we own four of our own trucks,
we also work with subcontractors that
help manage our distribution during
busier periods.
The trucks we operate are of a high
specification, consisting of FH16 750
Volvos and V8 730 Scanias, as it is
essential that our drivers have the
best possible vehicles when they are
travelling away from home for such a
long period of time.
We do try to deliver with our own
vehicles whenever we can, but with a
slightly irregular supply of fish and vast
distances to cover, this cannot always
be possible.
In the 1980s we had a slightly larger
fleet when fish was on sale every
day but have cut down as this has
There are advantages and
disadvantages to how the supply
has changed, but we have been
determined to simply adapt rather than
let it affect us negatively.
Donald Morrison’s father
selling fish, 1950s
Norscot trucks awaiting
dispatch to Europe
We are highly
and respected
Ensuring reliability
Having worked in the sector for nearly
50 years, we are highly experienced
and respected.
We understand how important it is
to build a rapport and sense of trust
with customers, and we feel that they
continue to trust us. We guarantee
the delivery of the correct produce, at
the highest quality and on a reliable
This is achieved by communicating
openly with clients and understanding
their needs and requirements.
On the whole, our clients are
wholesalers and processors, who will
prepare the fish for sale and then
distribute it.
We operate with larger quantities of
whole fish and do not process the fish
ourselves, so cannot work with UK
supermarkets directly as a result.
French supermarkets, however,
operate slightly differently; many have
processing capabilities of their own.
There are five that we supply directly
and they continue to provide a great
market for us
Overcoming challenges
One of our biggest challenges is our
geography, as it limits our ability to
distribute produce quickly. When
getting the product to market, we
have to travel on a number of poor-
quality and damaged roads, while the
journey to central Scotland is around
200 miles. The first 50 miles of this
journey is on single-track roads, which
increases time and also takes a toll on
our vehicles.
On a sector-wide basis, many
businesses have been impacted by
the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s
departure from the EU.
No-one is able to properly predict how
things will change and many of us fear
the effects of new regulations that
could follow a no-deal scenario. For us,
as an exporter to Europe, our produce
could be held up at customs and also
subject to more paperwork. This would
make a large part of our trade more
difficult and the ongoing lack of clarity
means we aren’t able to plan.
Regardless of Brexit, wild fishing will
always be a difficult sector to plan for.
When dealing with a non-controlled
environment, fish stocks can thrive and
then dwindle without warning and you
have to adapt and re-evaluate.
There is little certainty, but our
experience of nearly 50 years helps us
find a way through.
We don’t have any plans to change
how we work, though, and will instead
continue to operate at the same
consistently high level.
We are as prepared as we can be for
a worst-case scenario and at this stage
can only continue doing what we do
Wild fishing
will always be
a difficult
sector to plan
Young Jacob following
in his grandfather’s

This article was sponsored by Norscot Seafoods. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster