Seafood giant Connors Bros. files for creditor protection

Connors Bros., a major producer of seafood products in New Brunswick, has filed for bankruptcy.

The Blacks Harbour company employs about 800 people at peak season and up to half that number at other times, village Mayor Terry James said.

Operations will continue as the company restructures, according to documents. A company spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Records filed in Ontario show Connors Bros. has commenced court-supervised restructuring proceedings under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act after getting an order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Bumble Bee, the company’s U.S. affiliate, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Nov. 21.

Secured creditors

In Canada, six affiliated companies, including Coverleaf Holdings Company, Connors Bros., have filed for creditor protection.

A list of secured creditors in Canada includes Brookfield Principal Credit LLC at $190 million and Wells Fargo Capital at $46 million.

A long list of unsecured creditors include NB Power at $257,000 and the Village of Blacks Harbour at $19,000.

A statement from insolvency trustees Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc. of Toronto suggests the company plans to continue its operations.

“It is the monitor’s understanding that Clover Leaf intends to pay pre-filing amounts to suppliers and employees in the ordinary course.”

Little change expected

James expects little to change on the employment front in her community a 45-minute drive west of Saint John.

“In my 16 years as mayor of Blacks Harbour this company has changed hands at least four times,” said James.

“Each time there are concerns regarding employment opportunities for our people, all of which have been unfounded.”

James said of greater concern to her as mayor is the fact the company owns the municipal water supply.

“Each time the company changes hands, so does the ownership of our water source. Some people in Beaver Harbour, those on the system, should be equally concerned,” James said.

This is the only community in the province where a municipal water  source is owned off site and by private industry.”