Rising sales but heavier losses for UAE fish farming venture

Asmak, an Abu Dhabi-based fish farming holding company, netted a full year loss of Dh240.5 million.

Asmak's model aquaculture farm stands on display at SIAL, a Middle Eastern food show, last year. Silvia Razgova / The National
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The company that plans to bring salmon farming to Abu Dhabi reported deepening losses last year despite rising sales.

Asmak, an Abu Dhabi-based fish farming holding company, netted a full year loss of Dh240.5 million, the company said in a filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

It lost Dh141.3m the year before.

The losses are attributable to increased investment in the company’s hammour and sea bream facilities in Saudi Arabia, as well as investment in a salmon farming facility in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region, according to the marketing manager Tamer Yousef.

Asmak’s losses come despite an improvement in revenues to Dh268.6m for the year, up from Dh254.6m in 2012. Revenue for the fourth quarter grew to Dh73.8m, its highest level since 2011.

Operating profit similarly rose to Dh1.5m for the year, up from a loss of Dh16m.

The company’s total asset base declined by 14.6 per cent during the year to Dh1.2 billion, led by a 26.3 per cent fall in non-current assets to Dh770.9m.

Mr Yousef attributed the fall in assets to the sale of three large fishing vessels in Oman during the final quarter.

A company spokesman declined to give any further breakdown on its results, pending publication of the full audited accounts to be approved by the company’s board.

Asmak’s shares closed the day down 3 per cent at Dh9.25, their lowest level in nearly two years.

The company announced plans in November to introduce land-based salmon farming, the first such facility of its kind in the Arabian Gulf.

The farm will cover an area of 500,000 square metres and produce 4,000 tonnes of fish a year.

Mr Yousef said that the facility is on track to be completed by the end of June, with the first fish introduced into the facility in the second half of the year.

Asmak claims that the new plant will cut the cost of salmon in the UAE by 30 to 50 per cent, reducing reliance on imports from markets such as Norway and Ireland.