A new company has acquired the assets of a failed Scottish seaweed business and revealed plans for a major expansion of its processing facility in Fife.

Scottish start-up Seaweed Enterprises has retained seven jobs following its purchase of the assets of Mara Seaweed, which fell into administration in June.

And the new venture has announced plans for a large-scale expansion and adoption of modern technology of its factory in Glenrothes, declaring its ambition to become the UK’s leading harvesting and processing hub for seaweed.

Seaweed Enterprises is headed by Pete Higgins, a former chief executive of Cupar-based healthy snacks company Growers Garden.

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Mr Higgins believes there is huge potential to grow the new business both as producer of seaweed goods from the raw material it wild harvests on the east coast of Scotland, and as a route to market for other producers around Scotland.

He has been joined in the new venture by Arnie Sathiy and Clare Dean, part of the senior team at Mara, who came together to acquire the assets from the administrators and raised a further £300,000 to get the business up and running.

And there are plans to raise a further £700,000 to kit out the factory and secure BRC (British Retail Consortium) accreditation for the facility, which Mr Higgins described as the “gold standard” of food production, by early next year.

It is envisaged that the company will become a leading seaweed processing hub, supporting sustainable business growth for the Scottish seaweed sector with market-leading technology, and promoting responsible harvesting protocols.

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Mr Higgins said: “Seaweed is an extraordinarily beneficial natural resource whose potential is not yet fully realised, so this is a tremendously exciting time for Seaweed Enterprises and the sustainable seaweed sector as a whole.

“Working in partnership with Scottish seaweed farmers, as well as the large volume from our licence to wild harvest granted by the Crown Estate, we are proud to be developing innovative products to the highest standard.

"Our state-of-the-art facility will offer not only volume much needed by many customers, but importantly the versatility and refinement for higher value items.”

Mara Seaweed, originally founded in 2011 as Celtic Sea Spice Company before rebranding in 2013, appointed administrators from FRP Advisory on June 27 after running into “severe working capital issues following the withdrawal of funding for a committed expansion programme”.

Five of the 12 members of staff were immediately made redundant when the administrators were appointed to the firm, which was credited with pioneering the harvesting, processing, and manufacture of a wide range of seaweed-based seasonings.

Mara's products won a number of Great Taste and food industry awards, and regularly featured on TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off.

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Mr Higgins told The Herald that he got to know one of the founders of Mara, Fiona Houston, when he explored the potential of developing a seaweed snack for Growers Garden.

He explained that Seaweed Enterprises has a licence from the Crown Estate to “wild harvest” seaweed along a 33-kilometre stretch of the East Neuk of Fife but said that in order to grow the business it needs other sources of the raw material.

He believes there is potential for the new company to bring the “fragmented” industry in Scotland together.

Recalling his initial contact with Mara several years ago, Mr Higgins said: “Mara to its benefit has got the biggest drying facility and rather than just keeping it to itself, my idea was why can’t offer this facility to all of the seaweed farmers in Scotland.

“While they can grow the seaweed, the bottleneck is being able to dry it and process it at scale. We reached out to some of the big players on the west coast of Scotland…and they welcomed it with open arms.”

He added: “Rather than try to build our farms at huge expense, my thought was why can’t we just engage and partner up with the other farmers on the west coast who are already there and established.

"Therefore, we see the opportunity. Rather than competing with each other, we can work together in harmony and make sure there is a good supply chain for everybody to make money out of it.”

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Mr Higgins said he has opened talks with seaweed farmers on the west coast since acquiring the assets of Mara and plans to visit more soon.

Joint administrator Callum Carmichael, partner FRP Advisory, said: "The sale is a great result for everyone involved with Mara Seaweed in particular the staff, suppliers and extensive customer base.

"It is particularly rewarding that seven jobs have been saved and the future of an innovative food processing business has been secured. We are extremely grateful for the support we received during the administration and wish the new owners every success with their acquisition."

Mr Higgins’ first foray in the food industry was in 2008, when set up a smart labelling company, UWI Technology, which patented a labelling system that tells consumers when a product was first open and when it is no longer safe to eat. He left that business, which is still in operation, in 2018.