Nova Scotia-based Clearwater Seafoods reeled in a whopping $71 million increase in sales in 2022 compared to the year before — a record for the Indigenous-owned shellfish giant.
Clearwater’s year-end results were reported Thursday by Premium Brands Holdings, the publicly traded, part-owner with a consortium of Mi’kmaw First Nations.
Premium Brands Holdings CEO George Paleologou told analysts Clearwater earnings before taxes, interest and amortization were the highest ever at $130 million on sales of $604 million.
The results pleased and somewhat surprised Membertou Chief Terry Paul, who led the purchase in 2020.
He was talking about the company’s performance at the Boston Seafood show earlier this week.
“I didn’t think it would go as well as it has. The company has done very well on its bottom line and, you know, we look like geniuses,” Paul told CBC News this week in Boston.
The coalition was led by Membertou First Nation and Miawpukek First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador. The group borrowed $250 million to finance its share of the company.
It was the single-largest investment in the seafood industry by any Indigenous group in Canada.
The coalition holds Clearwater’s Canadian fishing licences within a fully Mi’kmaw-owned partnership.
“Paying down the debt is our main concern and we’re doing well in that area and I just wanted to continue doing that and look at the profits and the distribution of those at a later time,” Paul said.
Premium Brands said fourth quarter sales were $50 million, helping drive up profits.
It attributed the results to global demand and strong pricing for its core shellfish species, which include scallops, Arctic surf clams and shrimp.
The company was able to weather the storm of price drops for snow crab and lobster.
“We have other species. Diversification really is the key for sure, you know? And we were fortunate that the world still wanted to eat seafood,” Paul said.