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Sadness and frustration as Pinneys fish factory in Annan shuts door for the last time

OLIVIA Mostowik clocked on at Pinneys at 6am every weekday for seven years.

At lunchtime on Friday, the mum of two was the final person out the door as the last official fish processing shift ended at the Annan factory.

The plant used to employ around 450 people but announced in April it was closing.

Clutching her final paperwork, Olivia, 31, said it was a sad day for the whole town.

Olivia Mostowik was the last person to leave the factory (Chris Austin / DC Thomson)

“There was a lot of tears in there today and it was a lonely walk out to the gates on my own,” she said.

It is believed about 30 workers have agreed to stay on until the end of next week to help wind things up – but Pinneys is now all but officially shut. “I am from Poland and some of my Polish co-workers have already gone home because they can’t find other work in the area,” said Olivia.

“But I have two young kids and I don’t want to take my 10-year-old son out of school.

“I will be staying on in Annan but I have no job to go to yet so I know it is going to be tough.”

Mark Seaton, 51, also finished up at Pinneys on Friday after 28 years at the plant.

Previously, he had worked as a brickie and helped build the factory in the mid-1980s.

“Pinneys has been central to life in Annan for such a long time and this will be a huge blow,” he said. “I now don’t have a job and this is a sore one to take.”

(Chris Austin / DC Thomson)

Scottish Secretary David Mundell last week claimed bosses at Pinneys’ parent company Young’s Seafood had been working on a plan to shut the site a year before the announcement was made.

The firm, based in Grimsby, is up for sale for a reported £200 million. Pinneys’ biggest customer is Marks & Spencer, which it supplied with a range of smoked salmon, shellfish and party snacks, as well as ready meals.

Politicians yesterday slammed the closure.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “Pinneys has been part of the landscape in the Annan area for decades. Everyone knew someone who worked there.”

MSP Joan McAlpine said her sympathy amid the crisis at Pinneys was with the former workers.

She said: “It is a very disappointing time for the workforce after so many years of loyalty.”

Shoppers on Annan’s High Street were struggling to come to terms with the end of an era.

James Harbison, 66, used to work at Pinneys and believes the closure will have a devastating impact.

“A lot of families who worked there will now be hurting,” he said.

Fiona McGregor, 41, said generations of her family had been employed at the plant.

“It is a kick in the teeth but the people here are very strong and we will get through this,” she said.

Amid the gloom, there was good news for some Pinneys workers who have gone on to find new jobs.

Fiona Smith, her husband James and their daughter, Erin, had 57 years at the factory between them.

Fiona, 48, recently started work at a supermarket. Erin, 20, beat off 500 hopefuls to land a job as a domestic porter at a hospital in Dumfries, which she starts tomorrow.

“We used to get up at 5am and travel together to Pinneys for the early shift,” Fiona said. “But that has changed forever and we now just have to move on.”

What next for the people and businesses of Annan?

Businesses on Annan’s high street are bracing for tough times following the loss of 450 jobs.

George Caldwell, 52, is manager of The Lounge cafe. He said: “There are already 12 empty shops on the main street, three of them have become vacant in the past couple of weeks.

“We have customers who have lost their jobs at Pinneys and time will tell just how big the impact of this will be for local businesses.”

Jim Hodgson, 62, owns long-standing Annan family firm Maclean’s Taxis. He said: “We have been in town since 1902.

“We have weathered every storm thrown at us and this is just another challenge.”

John Steel, 60, who is the landlord of The Commercial Inn, said: “The full fallout hasn’t fully hit the town yet but it will. Every business is preparing themselves for it.”