It's really proving a good time of late to be a catcher of hake – a stark contrast to a period not that many years ago when this stalwart fishing niche was facing some
choppy waters. In fact, Cape Town’s two premier frozen fish specialists (and intense rivals) – Sea Harvest and I&J – now appear to be reeling in rather big
Recently empowerment investment company Brimstone reported that its 61,44% owned hake fishing group, Sea Harvest, was seeing catches well ahead of last year due to improved vessel utilisation and increased catch rates. Brimstone said that Sea Harvest’s higher catch volumes positively impacted the land based processing operations in Saldanha Bay. In terms of numbers, Sea Harvest’s revenue was up 14% in the half-year to end June, while operating profit increased 32% to a chunky R66m.
Sea Harvest CEO Felix Ratheb said the company enjoyed one of its better winters on the supply side. “With the exchange rate being weak, it’s looking very positive for us.”
I&J, which is controlled by brands conglomerate AVI, also enjoyed an improved performance in the year to end June.
Turnover was up 14,5% to R1,8bn, but greater operating efficiencies saw operating profit soaring around 48% to R245m. The all-important operating profit margin was fattened markedly to 13,4% from 10,4% previously. AVI appears to still have a strong appetite for hake, and capital expenditure of R184m has been earmarked to bolster fishing operations - including R108m for I&J’s vessels on order. Deposits totalling R60m have already been paid for a new deep sea fishing trawler and a used freezer factory ship, both of should be delivered early in the 2016 financial year.
In addition I&J has also entered into a purchase and sale-back of a second deep sea trawler - which is already fishing and will be used until the end of May 2015.
There should hopefully be more good news on the hake front when Cape Town biggest fishing conglomerate Oceana reports its financial results shortly. While not the biggest hake player, Oceana has significantly bolstered its presence in the market with the recent acquisition of Lusitania’s hake division.