Seamark Group

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Seamark Group'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 Seamark Group 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

Chairman and Chief Executive
Iqbal Ahmed OBE
Black tiger shrimps – our
signature dish
Seamark started life as a grocery store selling meat, vegetables
and fish in the UK, and over four decades it has developed
into a multinational company. It now has operations in the
UK, Bangladesh and USA and suppliers across Asia, with a UK
turnover of £100 million via activities covering food processing,
distribution, cash and carry, restaurant and banqueting. The
original business was established by Chairman and Chief Executive
Iqbal Ahmed OBE’s father in 1976. Iqbal explains how Seamark
enjoyed a reputation for being convenient, with longer opening
hours than competitors, a reputation on which it has built.
Black tiger, freshwater and vannamei shrimps are our speciality but we also supply
squid, scallops, pangasius, tilapia, seabass and seafood mixes throughout the food
service industry. Over 70 per cent of our production is exported, as a result of
which we have been awarded the Queen’s Award as well as numerous national
and trade awards. Our success is founded on our core values of customer service,
quality, innovation, social responsibility and sustainability.
From humble beginnings
The store flourished on the back of the burgeoning Asian population and the growing
taste for curry and exotic flavours; Afro-Caribbean and Kenyan products were added
to the range and the international dimension to the business had been established.
The first innovation that changed the business was to move away from dry ingredients
such as rice and spices into frozen products and particularly king prawns; we were
responsible for introducing the black tiger prawn into Europe. We began to import
»Chairman and Chief Executive:
Iqbal Ahmed OBE
»Incorporated in 1991
»Located in Manchester
»Services: Deep-frozen seafood,
cash and carrys, restaurants
and banqueting
»No. of employees: 277
»Past winner of Queen’s Award
for exports
Seamark Group
Highlighting best practice
full containers of frozen seafood, and in
order to process and distribute them we
needed to invest in infrastructure; we
did this with our first factory and cold
store in Openshaw, Manchester, which
was followed by further factories in the
Greater Manchester area, each time
increasing in size and capacity to meet
the growing demand for our products.
Unwilling to stand still, we saw the
opportunity to take advantage of
industrial development in Asia and
the Indian sub-continent to enhance
our service and invested in a custom-
built processing plant in Chittagong,
Bangladesh. This processes 80 tonnes
of seafood a day and one million
shrimps an hour, powered by our own
generators. Our registered brands
– Mr Prawn Lilly, Ibco and Tiger –
are household names throughout
Europe and we protect the quality
with British Retail Consortium Grade
A certification and rigorous quality
assurance in-house and throughout
the supplychain.
Exports have been the path to
growth because the volumes available
reduce the costs; however, trading
with Europe in the early days was
problematic because of the range of
clearance procedures and proliferation
of documents, and so the advent of
the single market was very much a
game changer. The growth in exports
that followed enabled us to invest in
further premises in east Manchester.
We are proud of the part we have
played in the regeneration of this
area of Manchester following the
Commonwealth Games in 2002, which
has seen us invest in a state-of-the-art
cold store and warehouse, head office,
cash and carry and our Thai-themed
fusion restaurant Vermilion, located a
short distance from Manchester City’s
Etihad Stadium and training complex.
Corporate social responsibility
We are proud of our commitment to
social responsibility, which extends
from product procurement through
operations and employment to our
activities in the communities in which
we operate. We are careful to source
our raw materials from environmentally
sustainable sources in compliance
with best aquaculture practice, which
combines food safety, traceability,
audits and a code of conduct based
on standards set by the Ethical Trading
Initiative. Within our operations,
processing is carried out in accordance
with hazard analysis and critical control
point protocols, and we are committed
to the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the
International Labour Organization,
which seeks to promote social justice
and labour rights. We have invested
in SA800 certification, which covers
Our Vermilion Hall seats
A small selection of our
vast range of products
Our success is
founded on
our core
values of
quality, social
child labour, working conditions and
The success of business has been
shared with the communities in which
we operate, with our heavy investment
in the Sportcity area of Manchester,
making a major contribution to the
regeneration of the area and to
charitable work for local hospitals.
In Bangladesh we have sponsored a
local cancer hospital and high school,
engaged in flood and refugee relief
and have formed the Iqbal Brothers
Foundation, a relief and development
charity focusing on healthcare,
sanitation and education.
Managing uncertainty
We have built our business through the
development of markets throughout
Europe and have been helped in this
by the existence of the single market
and customs union, which has made
serving export markets no more
complicated than domestic trade. The
decision to leave the EU therefore has
had major implications for us and while
we have never been daunted by the
challenge, the prolonged uncertainty
over the form Brexit would take has
made forward planning immensely
difficult. We have undertaken scenario
planning and remain ready to respond
to whatever the final outcome is.
We purchase our products mainly in
US dollars and therefore the volatility
in the exchange rate has presented
further challenges through its impact
on purchase prices, competitiveness
and financial liabilities. Fortunately, as
a family-owned business we are able
to take a longer-term view and ride
out short-term fluctuations.
Our success as a business has enabled
us to invest over £18 million in fixed
assets, and we have paid over £6
million in corporation tax. Still, we
remain eager to grow. We have
opened significant new markets in
Eastern Europe and have set our sights
on the Middle East, Africa and China,
and we introduced new stir fry ready
meals at the 2018 Seafood Global
exhibition in Brussels. We have two
cash and carry outlets and plan to
open more, while our new Vermilion
Hall banqueting and wedding suite
with capacity for up to 1,000 provides
a unique and unrivalled facility,
enabling us to offer a true ocean-to-
table service.
The success of
the business
has been
shared with
in which we
We supply the shrimps
our customers want

This article was sponsored by Seamark Group. 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