Entrepreneurship newsletter

A Entrepreneurial Journey: Blueshell Mussels 


Since its formation in 1997, Blueshell Mussels Ltd, based at Brae in Shetland, has become one of Scotland’s leading producers of mussels.

After 13 years of steady growth, in 2010 CEO Michael Laurenson successfully applied to HIE to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) week-long Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) on a sponsored place. Participation on this high level executive education programme helped shape some major changes Michael made to his business model and strategy and accelerated the rapid growth of the company over the last three years.

Initial outputs

MIT’s EDP is a globally renowned course which, in 2010, welcomed 160 ambitious entrepreneurs representing over 30 countries across the world. Whilst attending the programme, Michael was part of the winning team in the EDP “Business Plan Competition”.

On returning from EDP Michael also attended three further HIE led Enrepreneurship masterclass workshops delivered by MIT faculty and involved other Blueshell Mussels senior managers in order to develop and spread the entrepreneurial culture within the business and develop his team’s skills and aspirations.

Michael’s success at EDP was featured widely in national and industry-related press, including a half page feature in the Financial Times (26 April 2010).

Applying the learning from MIT EDP, Blueshell Mussels reported significant developments within the business since the end of EDP in February 2010, including:

  • The business grew 140% between Feb and Nov 2010
  • An  80% increase in turnover was achieved  in the 9 months between Feb and Nov 2010
  • The business has grown from having 70 mussel lines to 245 lines
  • Since MIT Blueshell has formed several strategic partnerships, which gives Blueshell the contractual benefit of a further 23 growing sites, thus creating efficiency and optimisation
  • Blueshell Mussels have acquired a new business and diversified into scallop farming
  • Undertaken three Interface Searches; Participating in 1 Knowledge Transfer Project with the University of Glasgow - supported by HIE.

Sustainable growth

Since 2011, Michael has continued to grow the company with ongoing investment in the management team along with further development in facilities. Blueshell is now among the largest rope-grown mussel producers in the United Kingdom.

Accolades include praise from celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, who hailed Blueshell’s rope-grown mussels as “the best in the world”.

other developments include: 

  • Since 2010 to the present employment has almost doubled from 30 to 57 employees
  • From 2010 to 2013, turnover has doubled
  • Gained Safe and Local Supplier Accreditation (SALSA) for its mussel and scallop processing activities
  • Invested in a new custom built software package to improve efficiencies across the company.

Further expansion

Supported by HIE, Blueshell acquired the assets of the Shetland Norse Preserving Company (SNPC), a long standing crab processor in Yell. As part of its expansion plans, Blueshell is moving these operations to a crab factory at Ronas Voe, Northmavine.

This is a significant investment for Blueshell Mussels Ltd and will broaden its product range which already includes mussels and scallops. The crab factory at Ronas Voe is to be upgraded with the help of a £150,000 investment by HIE.

This latest investment coupled with the disciplined and ambitious approach taken by the company looks to provide continued growth for the company over the next three years. This includes: 

  • An increase in turnover at year 3 of £895,091 which equates to 22%
  • An increase in international sales at year 3 of £350,144
  • The creation of 20 jobs at an average wage of £21,284 in a fragile area.

Michael Laurenson’s entrepreneurial journey is an example of how successful, world class businesses can be grown and developed in all parts of the Highlands and Islands. Michael’s drive and ambition to succeed coupled with the knowledge, tools, network and inspiration derived from participation on HIE’s programme of entrepreneurship support has accelerated his growth.

The link below show an interview Michael talking about what impact EDP had on him and the developments that were put in place during 2010.

Michael Laurenson Blueshell Mussels Ltd


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