Nfld. & Labrador

Quinlan Bros. to be sold to Royal Greenland in another N.L. fishery shakeup

In a stunning move, owners of Quinlan Brothers Limited, one of the province's largest seafood processing companies, have announced the sale of their company to Royal Greenland.

President Robin Quinlan will continue to manage the business, according to statement

Quinlan Brothers Limited owns and operates this modern new processing plant in Bay de Verde. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

In a stunning move, the owners of Quinlan Brothers Limited — one of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest and best-known seafood processing companies — have announced the proposed sale of their company to Royal Greenland.

The sale involves the transfer of licenses, so it is subject to provincial government approval.

The deal is expected to close later this year, following the end of the 2020 processing season.

If approved, the deal will mean that Quinlan Brothers Limited and Quin-Sea Fisheries Limited will once again be under common ownership.

A spokesperson for companies involved, Gabe Gregory, said the several hundred employees who work for Quinlan Brothers need not worry about their jobs.

"Their employment and status with the company, from the most senior person in the company to the least senior, they all have been committed their employment, their roles, their positions in the organization are secure. And for Quinlan Brothers Limited, this is business as usual," said Gregory.

Preserving Pat Quinlan's legacy

Quinlan Brothers issued a news release late Friday afternoon, saying the "shareholders feel that it is in the best long-term interest of the company and those associated with the business for them to transition their ownership at this time."

The shareholders include the estate of the late Pat Quinlan, who founded Quinlan Brothers in Bay de Verde in the mid-1950s, and later Quin-Sea in nearby Old Perlican, along Pat's two nephews, brothers Don and Wayne Quinlan.

Both brothers are now advanced in age, and have decided to sell their interests in the company.

A pioneer in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry, Pat Quinlan, passed away at age 88 in 2017. He founded Quinlan Brothers Limited and Quin-Sea Fisheries Limited. If a deal is approved, both companies will once again be back under common ownership. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

They didn't have too look far for a suitor.

Quin-Sea Fisheries, previously owned by Fred Hopkins, Derrick Philpott and Pat Quinlan, was purchased by Royal Greenland in 2016.

Gregory said Quin-Sea will continue to operate as an independently run and managed company, while Quinlan Brothers will be managed "as it has been over the years" with the "same management, people, suppliers and customers."

The added benefit for Quinlan Brothers, said Gregory, is that it will now have access to the to capital and extensive market networks available from Royal Greenland.

The current president of Quinlan Brothers, Robin Quinlan, will continue to manage the business to "ensure the company's management, employees, suppliers and customers are served as in the past," according to the statement.

Quinlan Brothers operates a technologically advanced shellfish processing plant in Bay de Verde, a facility that was constructed in quick fashion after a devastating fire destroyed the company's operations in the community in 2016.

It also owns plants in nearby Old Perlican, and in the White Bay community of Baie Verte.

On their own, Quinlan Brothers and Quin-Sea are already big players in the province's seafood industry, but when combined under the same ownership, they will become a dominant player.

Quinlan Brothers and Royal Greenland already have joint ownership of other fish processing operations in the province, mostly notably Gulf Shrimp Limited and Independent Fish Harvesters Inc.

Royal Greenland bought Quin-Sea Fisheries four years ago. (Royal Greenland)

Quin-Sea is also proposing to take over the processing plant in St. Anthony, following a fire earlier this year that destroyed its plant in Black Duck Cove. Both communities are located on the Northern Peninsula.

Royal Greenland is a major international player in the fishing industry, with more than 2,200 employees around the world.

The statement from Quinlan Brothers said Royal Greenland "has demonstrated its ability to maintain and grow the seafood business in Newfoundland and Labrador through new capital investment and increased market access that serves to benefit our entire industry."

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Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.