Sea Harvest Takes on Australia Under Leadership of Felix Ratheb
One of South Africa’s most iconic companies, Sea Harvest, surprised everyone in the fishing sector by casting deep into international waters. It’s been a year since Sea Harvest announced a 19,9% investment in Mareterram Limited, a specialist fishing company based in Perth that recently listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, and just over 7 months since the company took a majority shareholding in Mareterram.
While the deal was largely unexpected with Brimstone, Sea Harvest is seemingly satisfied with pursuing an organic growth strategy. Mareterram, a vertically integrated agri-business with operations including wild caught king and tiger prawns, as well as scallops, and a seafood distribution business that has long been a distributor of Sea Harvest’s brands in Australia, was a perfect fit in the conception of a new strategy of acquisitive growth.
Felix Ratheb, CEO of Sea Harvest, said that the investment in Mareterram has allowed the company to diversify its earnings away from a single species of hake. "It gives us a firm foothold to increase our market share and presence in Australia in a hard currency," Felix Ratheb said.
By the same token, Sea Harvest chairman Fred Robertson noted that Mareterram’s strategy was very much aligned with that of Sea Harvest. "It is centred on using a platform of wild caught, MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) certified seafood to build a broader-based food business." Sea Harvest’s footprint extends to supplying their products to over 23 countries throughout the world.
The Appeal Behind Mareterram
Mareterram comprises of two main segments, the Craig Mostyn Group (CMG) and Nor-West, which combine into a fairly substantial operation. Nor-West is primarily a prawn fishing company with revenues of AU$14 (R160m). They also fish for crabs, scallops, scuttle fish and squid.
The Craig Mostyn Group distributes frozen seafood and potato products, as well as an extensive range of convenience foods to foodservice and retail customers throughout Australia. Their turnover for the 2015 financial year was AU$35m – equating to around R360m. These figures are set to add a hefty element to Sea Harvest’s seafood basket.
Sea Harvest has grown into one of the largest vertically integrated fishing companies in South Africa, with operating profits increasing in the last 24 months. With 12 deep-sea fishing trawlers and access to a further 6 vessels through an exclusivity agreement with SeaVuna Fishing Company, Sea Harvest is regarded as the leading brand in South Africa’s fish segment, with more than 35% volume share. Aside from the existing presence in Australia, Sea Harvest is also gaining ground in the US and European markets.
Driving Sea Harvest Forward with Dynamic Leadership
Felix Ratheb and Brimstone developed the vision for a truly global Sea Harvest, and Felix has been key in implementing this strategy since being appointed Chief Executive Office in October 2013. Felix has more than 15 years of experience in the FMCG and fishing industries. He started his career as an International Trade Executive in the non-ferrous metals industry for the company he founded in 1997. In 2003, he joined Sea Harvest as a Commercial Manager, and was promoted to Group Sales & Marketing Director in 2006, prior to his role as CEO. He completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1995 at the University of the Witwatersrand and his MBA at UCT in 2000. In addition to being on the Sea Harvest Group and Mareterram board, Felix also serves as an independent trustee on the MSC Board of Trustees in the United Kingdom, where the MSC is the largest eco-labeling and sustainability programme for fish stocks globally.
Aside from all these board memberships, Felix is also on the Executive Board and a Board Member of the Groundfish Forum, the largest whitefish conference globally, helping him keep his finger on the pulse of the international industry. With Sea Harvest’s global operations expected to expand even further in 2017, there is no end to Sea Harvest’s global ambitions to be a leader in the seafood industry.
Commitment to Corporate Responsibility
As a responsible corporate citizen, Sea Harvest continues its tradition of conducting business in a sustainable manner. Not only does our company comply with regulations and quotas imposed by the South African government and other international organisations, but we also play an active role in creating initiatives to furthering the sustainability of South Africa’s marine resources, for the benefit of future generations, leaving behind a lasting and beautiful legacy