Seven Seas (company)

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Seven Seas Limited
ProductsVitamins, minerals and supplements

Seven Seas Ltd[1] is a supplier of vitamins, minerals and supplements in the United Kingdom and abroad. It began in 1935 when a group of trawler owners in Hull formed a co-operative venture called British Cod Liver Oil (BCLO) Producers to exploit one of the fishing industry's most valuable by-products.

In the early days BCLO sold various oils under simple descriptions such as Cod Oil, Pale Oil, Cattle Oil, Ruby Oil and Dark Cod Oil. Medicinal cod liver oil was still to be produced in the early years. The company offices were situated on the south side of St Andrews Dock in Hull but were not large enough to cope with the company's plans to market high quality veterinary oil and produce medicinal oil to conform to pharmaceutical standards.[2]

A new factory was built in Marfleet, the Marfleet Refinery, at the time, the world's largest cod liver oil refinery. The product produced and sold by BCLO was called SOLVITAX.


Kenneth MacLennan, previously of Lever Brothers, became General Manager in 1936 and became the driving force of the Seven Seas brand. In an effort to take cod liver oil to the masses a large fish was created (King Cod) and placed on the back of one of the BCLO trucks. A loudspeaker was fixed in the mouth of the fish to relay sales messages. King Cod was taken around the UK and was a sensation - particularly with "A Life on the Ocean Wave" blaring out of the loudspeaker.[3] Kenneth MacLennan's drive for standardisation led to the search for a good trade name. The name Seven Seas was his idea.[4]

BCLO was taken over by Imperial Foods, a division of Imperial Tobacco, in 1974. It was not until April 1982 that Seven Seas Health Care Ltd was set up as a subsidiary of the Marfleet Refining Company.

Seven Seas was acquired in 1986 as part of the purchase of Imperial Tobacco by Hanson Trust.[5] In 1996 the New York Times reported that Seven Seas Ltd was purchased by German global pharmaceutical and chemical company, Merck KGaA.[6]

Seven Seas operated from its base in Kingston upon Hull, with its main brands including Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil, Seven Seas JointCare, Multibionta and Haliborange. In April 2015, the Sevens Seas manufacturing facility in Hull was closed,[7] and the sales and marketing of the brand was moved to Merck's headquarters in London.

In 2016 it was one of the biggest selling branded over-the-counter medications sold in Great Britain, with sales of £25.7 million.[8]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ A history of British Cod Liver Oil
  3. ^ A History of British Cod Liver Oils
  4. ^ A History of British Cod Liver Oils
  5. ^ Stevenson, Tom (1996-05-02). "Hanson sells off Seven Seas". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  6. ^ "Merck Buys Seven Seas From Hanson of Britain". New York Times. 1996-05-03. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  7. ^ Burton, James (8 October 2015). "Eltherington buys Seven Seas site in Hedon Road, Hull". Hull Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  8. ^ "A breakdown of the over-the-counter medicines market in Britain in 2016". Pharmaceutical Journal. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.

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