Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  26 Feb 2012

VENTURES: New Fish Project In Cape Town


Recent Western Cape Business News

A new venture, Pure Ocean Aquaculture, which has Cape Town-based private equity specialist BKOne as its newest shareholder, aims at building a vertically integrated aquaculture business which includes farming operations, a wholesale component as well as direct retail access. The effort will cost some R210 million over the next four to five years, a spokesman says.

The opening of a retail arm less than two years after launching a trading operation suggests Pure Ocean is confident that its early stage aquaculture ventures will be paying off in the medium term.

Ocean Edge Retail – which will provide direct sales to both retail as well as wholesale consumers, is currently still in a pilot phase.

But judging by the company’s existing operational ‘specs’ it looks like a meaningful fishing venture. Pure Ocean currently holds two sizable aquaculture operations within its portfolio as well as a trading and wholesale business and a retail store. It is in the process of restructuring its trading business which currently operates out of Montague Gardens so as to be closer to its farming operations. The trading business was built around the fresh fish market.

The ‘fresh fish market’ thrust complements Ocean’s Edge retail store, which was opened last June in Sea Point. The retail arm, according to the BKOne prospectus, borrows from the European model of high end, quality and variety driven fresh fish retail outlets.

Progress will be interested to gauge especially in relation to further retail growth.

Pure Ocean has previously indicated a willingness to develop a chain of dedicated retail seafood stores situated across the major metropolitan areas of South Africa, and has commenced with the assessment of a Johannesburg opportunity.

In terms of potential ‘in-house’ supply Pure Ocean’s fledgling operations currently include Highlands Trout on the Katse Dam in Lesotho which has commenced operations and aims to produce its first harvest of rainbow trout in December this year, as well as an operation in East London aimed at breeding mainly Dusky Cob (Kabeljou).

While its early days for the actual aquaculture venture BKOne – headed by former Old Mutual executive Dean Richards - has indicated that Pure Ocean should thrive thanks to dwindling wild marine stock, changing lifestyles towards healthier eating and growing populations driving food shortages and food security.

Of course, it might be years before the aquaculture venture starts showing tangible evidence of its potential, which is probably why a trading and retail arm that can generate initial cash flows may not be a bad idea.

In the interim, CBN wonders if Sekunjalo – which operates a sizeable abalone aquaculture business – is watching developments at Pure Ocean with any particular interest?

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