Burgons of Eyemouth is understood to be on the brink of closure after announcing today that it is starting a redundancy process, which could affect all 81 jobs.
The crab factory and cold store operation in Eyemouth currently employs 32 permanent staff and a further 49 temporary seasonal workers.
It is understood that Burgons has been affected by falling supplies and uncertainty over the Chinese ban on live crab and could be out of business before Christmas.
Burgons of Eyemouth Ltd is owned by Devon-based The Blue Sea Food Company Limited. Its managing director was in Eyemouth today to break the news.
Borders MSP John Lamont and MP Calum Kerr are both meeting management at Burgons tomorrow to discuss the proposed closure.
Mr Lamont has urged the Scottish Government to do all it can to support workers and their families and see if Burgons can be saved.
He said: “This is terrible news for staff in the run up to Christmas. It would be a massive blow to families and the local economy to lose such a large and well established employer.
“There will also be wider implications on the Berwickshire fishing industry if Burgons was to close.
“I understand that the current economic climate has been difficult because of falling supplies and because of international pressures, but I want to look closely at whether anything can be done to save the business or support staff who are losing their jobs.
“I know the Scottish Government have intervened before in similar circumstances, which is why I have written to the Business Minister to see what can be done. My thoughts go out to the families of staff at Burgons who are facing an uncertain future.”
Business minister Fergus Ewing personally set up a Stakeholder Group when Young’s Seafood announced jobs were at risk at two of its fish processing sites in July this year.
Calum Kerr, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, added: “This news is a devastating blow to the workers at Burgons and their families and is clearly going to have a negative impact on the economy of Eyemouth and beyond.
“The fact that this dreadfully bad news has come in the run-up to Christmas makes it a particularly difficult time for those involved and I have the greatest sympathy for the situation they now find themselves in.
“I know that the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Borders Council will all do everything they can to provide support. Ministers are already putting a dedicated team in place to provide help which is tailored to the individual needs of those involved.
“Both my MSP colleague Paul Wheelhouse and I are ready to help the employees as much as we can. The circumstances of the situation are challenging, but we’re in touch with the company’s owners and I’ll be meeting management on Wednesday.
“We’ll both work to do everything we can to find a satisfactory solution.”
The company was founded a hundred years ago to process herring. In the early 1950s, shellfish replaced herring as their principal product, and Burgons were major players in the development of live lobster exports to continental Europe. By the mid-eighties, crab processing had become the core of the business, and a new factory was developed to specialize in the processing of Scottish crab.
Burgons also supply live lobsters, crabs and velvet crabs.