Salmon supplier to the Queen: “We’re having to turn away business as a result of our inability to meet demand”

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A Scottish seafood processing firm, which supplies fish to the Queen, says it is losing business because of labour shortages it blames on Brexit.

According to the Press and Journal, Christopher Leigh, chief executive at John Ross Jr, an Aberdeen-based traditional smoked salmon producer, claims the current workforce crisis “cannot be overcome without intervention from government”.

Read more: This is the supplier to the Queen’s favourite lunch in The Crown

Amazon
Since Brexit, the firm has struggled to attract the staff required to fulfil international orders, with many EU nationals choosing to return to mainland Europe.

Leigh claims that the problem is “being compounded” by global firms such as Amazon, who recently announced it was offering new warehouse workers a £1,000 joining bonus in a bid to attract new recruits.

Mr Leigh now wants the UK Government to help businesses meet the challenge of finding workers. He said: “We raised the issue of a staffing crisis prior to the global pandemic.

“The response we received at the time from the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, who suggested our concerns stemmed solely from a fear of having to pay our employees more, was disappointing.”

He continued: “We are now in a situation whereby we’re having to turn away business as a result of our inability to meet demand and I know that John Ross isn’t the only business facing this challenge.”

Staffing problems
While Leigh acknowledges that government support for export has “never been so high,” making it “easier for companies to distribute their products overseas”,he says it does little good “if companies such as ours cannot attract the staff required to fulfil international orders”.

He adds: “We’ve been in business for almost 40 years and have seen our fair share of crises, all of which we’ve dealt with head on and managed ourselves.

“However, this crisis is very different and one that cannot be overcome without intervention from government. The UK needs a labour force and it needs it now. We urge the government to take action before it’s too late.”

Last year, the Home Office launched a £3 million awareness campaign for UK employers, informing them that freedom of movement was ending and that they may need to take steps to adapt their recruitment practices.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The British people repeatedly voted to end free movement and take back control of our immigration system and employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad.