Young’s Seafood Limited has (23 June 2016) held a special conference for their top 50 VIP Suppliers to drive innovation as part of their Virtual Integration strategy. The conference brought together suppliers from around the world with Young’s Operating Board and top management team to discuss new ways to bring innovation to the market place. Building on Young’s Seafood Limited’s recent Dragon’s Den-style event, where suppliers pitched new ideas for packaging, the conference was an opportunity to build Joint Business Plans and work together on new ideas to inspire shoppers and retailers.

Since the first Virtual Integration Conference in autumn 2015, Young’s Seafood has worked on more than 8 projects with its suppliers, generating over £500,000 of savings. These savings have been shared between Young’s, its supply chain partners, and reinvested into innovation, which retailer customers and shoppers will benefit from when the new products become available in store. Young’s partnership with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to promote fish fingers with a Free Swim offer on pack is just one example of a joint project, which has so far resulted in many more families going swimming and enjoying Young’s Omega 3 fish fingers made with Alaska pollock. A number of suppliers have seen an increase in Turnover since taking an active role in Young’s Virtual Integration strategy, with at least one supplier recording a 60% rise in sales driven by innovation and New Product Development. The conference is a springboard for more of Young’s top suppliers to get involved in joint projects and innovative ways to do business.

Stuart Caborn, Chief Supply Chain and Procurement Officer at Young’s Seafood, said: “Our mission is to inspire people to love fish now and for generations to come, and to achieve this innovation is absolutely key. This Conference was a great opportunity to bring our suppliers together to work on innovative new projects. I believe that those in the room have the power and ability to shape the future of the UK seafood market, bringing together the very best elements of the supply chain – the very essence of our Virtual Integration model. The projects we have worked on since our last conference have been a major success for Young’s Seafood, our supply chain partners, our customers and shoppers, and have helped us reinvest in ground breaking innovation. Now more of our leading suppliers are getting on board and we are very excited about the next phase of our Virtual Integration journey.”

Pete Ward, Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood Limited, added: “Innovation plays a crucial role in our industry and this conference was a springboard for working on more innovative projects in partnership with our leading suppliers. I’m delighted that so many people from so many different countries attended this VIP event and that our Virtual Integration strategy is delivering significant results.”

During the conference Young’s gave a special award to packaging supplier DS Smith for going the extra mile in being an early adopter of Virtual Integration. Another special award was announced during the Conference for Malcolm Blanthorn, a member of the Young’s Seafood team who has been instrumental in raising over £1million for pioneering charity school building projects, eye clinics and rebuilding mud houses with bricks and mortar overseas. Having worked at Young’s Seafood for over 15 years Malcolm Blanthorn, Purchasing Manager, has drawn on his commercial experience at Young’s in his role as a Trustee of the charity Copts In Need. The award recognises his charitable efforts, which closely fit with the ethos of Young’s Fish for Life Corporate Social Responsibility programme and commitment to doing the right thing for our planet, partners and people.

Suppliers travelled from a number of countries to come to the conference including Canada, the USA, China, Norway, Iceland, Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia. Attendees worked on Joint Business Plans, listened to presentations and enjoyed ‘the supply chain on a plate’ – a meal showcasing some of Young’s best innovation and delicious fish dishes.