P D K Shellfish

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by P D K Shellfish'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 P D K Shellfish 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


PaulKnight, Managing Director
Lobster and brown crab
from the west of Scotland
PDK Shellfish was established in 1998, initially operating as
a sole trader. PDK Shellfish now purchases large quantities
of live shellfish from all of the Scottish islands and several
mainland ports. The shellfish is then transported to Oban on
the west coast of Scotland, where it is sorted into customers’
orders and loaded into specially built vivier lorries for further
transportation to Europe. PDK Shellfish started out purchasing
shellfish from just one fisherman on the Isle of Mull, but they
have since expanded dramatically and are developing a £2 million
international export centre, which will allow them to grow their
distribution base into the Far East. Managing Director Paul Knight
explains how they expanded their operations and discusses their
bid to diversify the business in order to secure further growth.
When I first started PDK Shellfish, I would buy live shellfish provided by just one
fisherman from the Ross of Mull and transport it to Oban. From Oban I would sell
the product to Spanish customers who sent their own lorries equipped with aerated
vivier tanks to keep their shellfish alive until they reached Spain.
Our journey
Within the first few years, focus was turned to establishing a stronger position
in the live wholesale market, officially establishing PDK Shellfish Ltd in 2006. We
realised from the start that without good continuity of supply we would not be
able to grow our customer base effectively. Our ethos is to make sure we treat
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 1998
»Based in Oban, started on the
Isle of Mull
»Services: New export centre is
being built locally in Oban and
we plan to treble our exports
»No. of employees: 15 full-time
staff, several seasonal part-
time staff
PDK Shellfish
Highlighting best practice
our suppliers with the utmost respect
by striving to pay a competitive price
and offer the best service possible. We
continued to increase our operational
area, and we began buying from a
broader supplier base, predominantly
in the west and north of Scotland.
Currently, we employ 15 full-time staff,
who either work in the office or sort and
transport the shellfish, as well as several
seasonal part-time employees. Over the
last 12 months we have been involved
with the local high school, offering work
experience to students. We hope this
programme encourages young people
to stay in the area and build a career
with an expanding business like ours.
Our vehicle fleet has also increased
over the years with a growing number
of suppliers and customers, and this
continual growth will provide more
future job opportunities. Our aim is
to continue good relationships with
local fisherman and provide them with
a service that maintains and supports
a number of sustainable local fishing
industries. Currently, we are directly
supporting over 150 fishermen, on 80
to 90 fishing vessels around Scotland.
Quality produce
We buy live shellfish directly from
the fishing boats in ports throughout
the mainland and the islands, mainly
purchasing brown crab, velvet crab,
lobsters, prawns, cockles and winkles.
To ensure our produces reaches our
customers in the best state possible
we have to minimise the time between
purchase and delivery of the shellfish.
Once the shellfish has been caught
and purchased we take a number
of steps to ensure it is kept at the
highest possible quality. One of the
key factors in this is minimising the
time that the shellfish is out of the
water. This is done by using a variety
of custom-designed vehicles designed
to meet the needs of the location and
PDK Shellfish aim to supply our
customers with the highest quality of
seafood, sourced in Scottish waters.
Poor-quality shellfish is removed
prior to being transported and air is
continuously pumped through sea
water-filled vivier tanks to ensure the
shellfish is kept in an environment as
close as possible to its natural habitat.
Left: Live brown crab in
our vivier tanks
Right: Our lorry
delivering in the north
of Spain
PDK Shellfish
aim to supply
our customers
with the
highest quality
of seafood,
sourced in
Expanding production
The development of a £2 million live
shellfish export centre is our central
aspiration as we move forward. The
centre will be a distribution hub for all
of the Hebrides islands and we hope it
will allow us to expand our sales across
the world. PDK Shellfish currently
sources sustainable live shellfish
on every Scottish island, as well as
throughout the Orkney Islands.
In Scotland, we have some of the
best seafood in the world and while
the European market will always
be very important, the emergence
of worldwide markets, especially
the Far East – in particular China –
have given our sector a new lease
of life. Our European markets are
diminishing, so in order to keep the
business on its current trajectory, we
need to act. The purchase price to
fishermen has the scope to double or
even treble with these new markets,
turning a once poorly paid sector
into a thriving positive one that will
become attractive to young people
once again. We anticipate that the
new development will also result in
the direct employment of up to 20
additional staff, taking our full-time
staff total to over 30. The development
of this project has involved bringing
together all the relevant fishing and
government agencies from within the
UK, who have aided us in our attempts
to develop a modern export centre that
will potentially have a transformative
effect on the Scottish rural economy
throughout the Western Isles.
In the past year, we have developed
a new website, which will play a
part in our new marketing strategy.
I have been rather reticent about
excessive marketing in the past due to
limitations with the European markets
but with new worldwide markets
being available, the right advertising
will be key to our future success. We
are looking to embrace it as we have
approached the development of other
areas of the business. In recent years
PDK Shellfish has seen substantial
growth and this now includes a strong
hold with the renewable energy
sector. This growth has come through
expanding into the wind energy
sector. We have developed an offshore
catamaran vessel that can safely and
effectively transport engineers and
fuel to offshore windfarms, which will
help reduce maintenance difficulties.
The catamaran is 20 metres long and
can take 12 engineers and supplies
at any one time to offshore windfarm
sites. With the construction of our
new international export centre and
strategic diversification of the business,
we have laid the necessary foundations
for future growth and success.
Left: New export centre,
to be built in 2019
Right: The Coastal
Knight, our windfarm
The purchase
price to
fisherman has
the scope to
double or even
treble with these
new markets,
turning a once
poorly paid sector
into a thriving
positive one that
will become
attractive to
young people
once again


This article was sponsored by P D K Shellfish. 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 Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy