Morgan’s Fine Fish: Five generations of excellence in the seafood sector, with support from BIM

Morgan’s Fine Fish: Five generations of excellence in the seafood sector, with support from BIM

Gillian Morgan could not be prouder of her heritage. A 5th generation working in Morgan’s Fine Fish in Omeath, Co. Louth, she is mindful of the legacy and contribution her family has made to the Irish seafood sector over the last 163 years.

“We believe we are the oldest fish business in Ireland” said Gillian, Sales Manager of Morgan’s Fine Fish. “And the secret to staying relevant and in business is adapting and innovating – and never forgetting who our customers are.”

The business started with Gillian’s great-great grandfather in 1860. He operated from the local harbour with a small fishing boat, but also buying fish from other vessels. He sold his catch from a horse and cart going house to house as far away as Monaghan and Baileborough.

Today, Gillian’s Dad, Pat, and uncles’ Arthur and Joe are still working with Morgan’s Fine Fish “Pat is trying to retirebut it  gets addictive!!” she laughs. As the main fish buyer Joe works tirelessly to source the best quality fish and he has great contacts in every port in Ireland and Scotland.

With top quality fish and seafood on the doorstep, the business progressed, and subsequent generations brought new initiatives and opportunities.

Gillian got involved in the family business after living abroad for many years and is now sales manager of the company. But she also works on new product development which is where her real passion lies.

She recognises that value added, and developing convenient pre-packed product, is the route to success.

“Consumers can be a little bit intimidated by fish. What they want is high quality, ready to cook fish meals that they can put into the oven for a delicious meal. “

Recently Morgan’s Fine Fish was awarded the prestigious Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)– sponsored Seafood Innovation Award at Irish food awards’ event Blas na hÉireann for its popular salmon darnes topped with garlic and herb butter and wrapped with Irish chorizo ribbon, which is sold as part of Dunnes Stores’ premium ‘Simply Better’ range.

The award recognises excellence in seafood innovation through the entire supply chain from product creation to the use of process technology to developing new markets.

“We were so proud to get this award,” said Gillian. “The partnership with Dunnes has been fantastic.  The award was a real example of how embracing innovation and new technologies to create fantastic new products can give a competitive advantage. And it also showed the importance of partnering with a national brand like Dunnes.”

According to Gillian the support from the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, implemented by Bim, has been instrumental in the company’s progression. The scheme, which will deliver up to €45 million in funding to the seafood processing sector, is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. It was recommended by the Seafood Taskforce established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D.

Over the last 18 months Morgan’s has availed of Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme funding of almost €100,000 to help futureproof the business and make it more energy efficient. The total investment by Morgan’s has been in the region of €270,000.

One of the grants supported Morgan’s in becoming more energy efficient by introducing solar panels and replacing a 20-year-old refrigeration system to reduce demand on electricity.

The company also availed of Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme funding to invest in state-of-the-art process technology to maximise the use of white fish landings, and develop value-added products for the European market place.

“The efficiencies we have reached through this funding has helped us compete on a level playing field with international competition.” said Gillian. “We are using premium technology to offer fresh or frozen fish products to the market.”

She added: “The investments we have made with the support of Bim will futureproof the company and help us remain competitive and  to deliver new products.”

Today Morgans Fine Fish has 80 staff. Many have been working for the company, located in a scenic rural location overlooking Carlingford Lough and the Cooley mountains, for decades.

According to Gillian there is a solid ethos behind everything Morgan’s Fine Fish does, very much in line with that of the Dunne’s Simply Better team.

“I think that’s why we’re such a good fit,” Gillian notes. “We share that philosophy of sustainability and high quality. The Simply Better team are very collaborative to work with as well, which makes the whole process so much easier.”