Seafood stalwart aiming for bountiful catch on ASX debut

More than 50 years after Frank Catalano opened his first fish and chip in Perth’s southern suburbs, Catalano’s Seafood is preparing for its biggest challenge yet – listing on the ASX. As JESSICA GABITES reports, this bold step will help the family-run business remain innovative while expanding its national and international footprint.

Listing on the Australian Securities Exchange was always in the family plan for Catalano’s Seafood, explains CEO Nick Catalano. It was just about getting the timing right.

In early March, Nick is poised to take the company into a new era, with Catalano’s making its ASX debut. This is a significant milestone for the company which has been a leading wholesaler and retailer of high-quality West Australian seafood for decades.

The much-loved WA seafood company has continued to innovate from one decade to the next but as Nick explains, listing is a crucial step to move forward and one which will give it the capital injection it needs to fulfil its vision of expanding nationally and globally.

“As a family business we need to move forward. Listing on the ASX will enable us to capitalise on our years of experience while helping us achieve our goals of expanding the business,” Nick said.

The listing will also help Catalano’s achieve bold growth plans to supply more quality WA-produced seafood around the nation and export within its niche retail segment – allowing the company to invest in more people and more equipment.

Australia’s retail seafood market is expected to be worth $934 million in 2021-2022, which equates to an average 26.4kg per person, with consumption predicted to increase further over the next three years to an annual 27.5kg per person. And while overall intake continues to increase, the proportion of imported seafood is falling.

With WA and northern Australian waters being home to the world’s most diverse and sustainable range of wild caught seafood, Catalano’s is poised to help meet this growing demand.

Remaining innovative is as important today for Catalano’s as it was when Nick’s father, family patriarch Frank Catalano, got into the business in the late 1960s.

With more than 160 years of IP between them, the Catalano family – Nick’s brother, two sons and nephew are all involved in the business – has a wealth of experience to draw on as they look ahead.

“We have continued to innovate from one decade to the next,” said Nick, who started working for the family business with his brother Paul when he was still at school.

In the 1980s and 90s, Catalano’s started supplying Coles – which previously only stocked frozen fish – with fresh, high-quality seafood for its delis. The company would go on to be a five-star supplier to the supermarket giant for 25 years.

Developing wholesale and retail supply lines, Catalano’s expanded and relocated its processing facility to Bassendean in the mid-1990s – one of only a handful of toll processing facilities in the nation. The company now employs more than 70 people.

Catalano’s has three retail outlets in WA and its products are stocked in more than 90 independent supermarkets. The company also processes fish for other major seafood companies. It is now focused on delivering a “turn-key” seafood solution for independent food retailers across the nation, starting with a pilot in Melbourne.

The Seafood Category Management System (SMS) will provide what Nick describes as a “store within a store concept.”

“With more than 2,000 independent supermarkets across Australia, there is a huge opportunity to put WA seafood into more of them,” he said.

Catalano’s growth plan is to expand this pioneering concept to 40 stores around Australia within the first two years.

To help achieve this goal, the company raised more than $5 million in its IPO, issuing shares at 20 cents.

Nick, who has been at the helm of the business since 1985, said the company had been in growth mode for a number of years and the investment plans targeted a three-pillar growth strategy across its processing, retail and global distribution arms.

Reflecting on the company’s journey, Nick said he was proud his family had worked together so well for so long, while providing quality seafood to the community and continuing to innovate.

“It is an exciting time for the whole team, and we can now look at putting WA seafood on the national and international map,” he said.

Catalano’s Seafood is expected to list on the ASX on 9 March under the ticker code CSF.