A FAMILY-RUN Scottish seafood business has opened a distribution hub in Europe in an effort to capitalise on demand on the continent.

MacNeil Shellfish said the expansion into the city of Bilbao, in the Basque Country, came after five years of work and more than £5 million of investment.

The firm said it hoped that the new hub could help increase exports by 10% and turnover by 30% in 2024, saying that Scottish shellfish “remains one of the most sought after products throughout the EU”.

MacNeil Shellfish, which was set up in 2012 by Michael MacNeil and partner Amber Knight, is based in Larkhall.

It works with some 600 suppliers around Scotland and focuses on wild, creel-caught seafood.

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Knight, the co-owner of MacNeil Shellfish said: "At MacNeil Shellfish, our core mission extends beyond just selling seafood. We are deeply invested in nurturing a sustainable future for our community of suppliers, partners, and employees.

"Our new facility in Bilbao is a testament to our dedication to excellence and sustainability.

“It will not only enhance our distribution capabilities but also reinforce our support for the Scottish fishing communities, enabling us to deliver our exceptional products more effectively across Spain and Europe."

MacNeil Shellfish said it had plans to further expand into France and the Netherlands “in the immediate future”.

Brexit has had a negative impact on Scotland’s fishing fleet, with firms struggling to export fresh seafood to the continent through the new red tape which the Tory government has brought in.

In January 2021, one year after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal took effect, reports said prices at Peterhead market were down by 80%, while some firms looked to source fish from Norway and Denmark instead of the UK.

MacNeil Shellfish said its new 3000-square-metre facility in Bilbao had been “designed to propel the company into its next growth phase … and significantly boost distribution capabilities across Spain, Portugal, and the broader European continent”.