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East Coast Seafood joins forces with top chef to grow firm with £125k loan

By John Mulgrew

Published 13/10/2015

Martin Johnston, director of East Coast Seafood, with Mark Canning, senior investment manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners
Martin Johnston, director of East Coast Seafood, with Mark Canning, senior investment manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners

A Co Down seafood firm is creating seven new jobs and growing its business with the help of pioneering Belfast restaurateur Nick Price.

Downpatrick-based distributor East Coast Seafood is expanding, thanks to a £125,000 cash injection from the Growth Loan fund.

It’s using the money to buy equipment and develop new products, along with help of the former owner of the now closed Nick’s Warehouse restaurant in Belfast.

Established in 1988 by Martin and Eileen Johnston, East Coast currently employs 10 staff and produces a range of whole fish, shellfish and smoked products.

Martin Johnston said the business had grown from a small 600 sq ft premises to a much bigger unit which includes five processing units and an on-site shop.

“We have a wide clientele including some of Ireland’s top restaurants and hotels, with our products also being exported to the UK and Europe,” he said.

And Eileen Johnston said the company was working on its new products with the help of their friend, chef Nick Price.

Mr Price started his aptly-named and multi-award winning restaurant in 1989, offering those in the city and beyond a high standard of eating in casual and relaxed surroundings.

“The loan received will help us to purchase new machinery and help support our new product development with chef Nick Price who we have known for over 20 years,” said Eileen.

“We are looking to create a value added product and are in the early stages of idea generation with Nick.”

Mark Canning, senior investment manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners which operates the Growth Loan Fund, said the firm was “one of the leading seafood suppliers in Northern Ireland”.

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