Scotland’s enterprise minister has said he hopes to persuade a seafood company that relocating jobs from the south of Scotland was “a false economy”.Jim Mather’s comments came as MSPs discussed the loss of 89 jobs at Young’s seafood, in Annan.

The move was branded a “betrayal” by Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray.

The company moved some operations from the plant after a major fire in March and said it did not make economic sense to bring them back to Scotland.

Last year the company moved its scampi peeling services to Thailand, cutting more than 100 jobs and now wants to make a further 89 workers redundant, leaving about 25 staff on site.

‘Premium rates’

Ms Murray said she realised little could be done to save jobs in Annan, telling parliament: “Last year, Young’s seafood employed around 250 people at their site in Dumfries and Galloway, by Christmas this year, there may be only a tenth of that number.

“This is the story of the betrayal of a loyal workforce, under a community which has sustained the company in Annan since the 1940s.”

Mr Mather said Young’s was a major UK player, with some 30% of its turnover in Scotland, where it was also currently buying £70m of seafood.

“I’m certainly very keen to debate with the company about the fact that more and more discerning consumers, I think, are willing to pay a premium for a product that was turned round more quickly and made available here in Scotland,” he said.

The minister said he wanted to “perhaps even persuade Young’s in the coming future that this decision they’ve made, like many others that have moved to call centres in India, is actually a false economy”.

The company, he added, had been giving support to staff to find new jobs in the area.