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Premier Fishing celebrates 70 years at the helm

One of the most transformed fishing enterprises is a nod to SA’s democratic struggle

PREMIER Fishing (Premier) turned 70 years old on Sunday 23 October.  From humble beginnings in 1952, the Level-1 BBBEE fishing company has grown into an internationally recognized brand with several verticals, a fleet of fishing boats, loyal seafarers and operational staff (some even celebrating their 40-year tenure with the company) and an enviable reputation for delivering quality products and customer service.  

From starting out as a collection of several subsidiaries, to listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in March 2017 as a single Group, is one of South Africa’s foremost sustainable fishing entities. It was voted number one in the ‘Food, Beverages, and Other’ sector by IRAS (Integrated Reporting & Assurance Services).

Premier Fishing continues to expand its influence, supplying markets across four continents – Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa, from operations in Cape Town, Hout Bay, Saldanha, Gqeberha, St Francis Bay and Gansbaai – the company’s Atlantic Abalone aquaculture farm.

The milestone anniversary was officially heralded with simultaneous festive get ‘togethers’ in Cape Town and Gansbaai and attended by staff from across the company in the form of a traditional South African ‘braai’.  A similar celebration will take place later in November in Gqeberha, the home of Premier’s squid operation – the biggest in the country. Trawler skippers and business partners also shared in the festivities at a Cape Town function where their contribution to the company’s overall success was recognised. 

Remarking on Premier’s 70 years in business, newly appointed CEO, Sooren Ramdenee said: “It has not taken me long to realise that I have stepped into a company that truly values its people.  It is this spirit which resonates throughout every level of the organisation, that has carried the company forward through all the ups and downs of business life in the 20th and now 21st century. 

“These 70 years are a tribute to every person who has come through our doors, some of you even beginning your careers here, and who continue with us, including our intrepid seafarers, one of our most important assets.  You are what make us successful, and your spirit defines the essence of our brand, which is enjoyed around the world to this day.   Thank you all.  I salute you.  Happy Birthday Premier Fishing!” 

One of the first fishing companies in South Africa to welcome a black-based management team and ownership, Premier has gone from strength to strength, selling its products into multiple countries across the globe, notably: Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, the UK, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, and the USA.

Products include the likes of rock lobster, squid, pelagic, hake, abalone, and a fish emulsion trading under the globally recognised Seagro brand – a bio-fertiliser containing enhanced amino acids.  Premier is recognised as the undisputed South African leader in squid and south coast rock lobster. 

What does the future hold for Premier Fishing?

The world, as they say, is Premier’s oyster.  According to Ramdenee, with sustainability at the core of every aspect of its business, the company is looking to further consolidate its current product line but with a growth focus to expand its business opportunities locally and outside of its existing territories, through both acquisitions and fishing rights in other territories. 

“While the global fish market took a bit of a knock over the COVID-19 years, it is starting to recover, and with-it fish stocks and the appetite for fish and fish-based products,” said Ramdenee. 

“This is in part fuelled by a surge in the global interest of leading a healthier more natural lifestyle – the adage of we are what we eat rings true here – coupled with a bounce back of the fishing stock itself.  We expect, therefore, to not only reach pre-2020 highs but exceed them in the short to medium term. To support this, we are exploring several interesting avenues. One being that to ensure that our skills base keep pace with our expansion aspirations, we have extended in-house training of career oriented youngsters through a yearlong shore based exposure programme to familiarise candidates with back of house operations such as sales, marketing, sales and finance. 

“The current crop of 16 trainees in Cape Town will be monitored and mentored, and as positions become available, promising candidates will be offered permanent positions within the company” he said.

The final word on the celebrations, however, goes to Premier’s Chairman, Aziza Amod, a well-known businesswoman whose heart is firmly ensconced in the community, and who says: “The past seven decades have traversed two different centuries (20th and now the 21st).  During that time, we have witnessed the landing on the moon, the dawning of a democratic South Africa, and an overnight switch to a digital world.  But still, we do not know half of what lies beneath the depths of the waves, as we have yet to explore beyond a certain point. 

“This makes fishing a daily adventure, something new with every breath of wind and rolling of the seas, at the mercy of nature and the elements. The one constant that has carried us through and continues to do so, is our people – our staff, our communities, our clients and all their families. It is to them I raise a toast to the next 70 years and more and say thank you!” 

The celebrations of Premier Fishing’s Platinum landmark will continue throughout the year ahead. 

About Premier Fishing and Brands

Founded in October 1952, Premier Fishing and Brands Limited (Pty) Ltd is a predominantly commercial fishing, fish processing and marketing company. Its range of activities involves some 850+ permanent and seasonal staff, as well as factories, facilities and vessels operating in three provinces. The Group has built partnerships with small companies particularly in the west coast rock lobster sector, where it assists these companies with the catching and marketing of their fish. This is in line with the group’s fundamental principle of developing smaller black-owned companies as well as in investing into the communities within which it operates – particularly applicable to the support of its seasonal workers. This same principle extends across every aspect of the Group – develop long standing mutually beneficial relationships to build a nation, where all are valued.  Sustainability First.

Counting the years of service: From the left: Rushaan Isaacs total 24 years, Sami Sedidi 35 years, Moesiena Anthony 37 year, Johan Pieters 35 years, Patrick Flepu 29, Maureen Smith total 45 years, with Sooren Ramdenee, CEO of Premier Fishing.

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