COVID-19 has created enormous disruption for Britain’s fishmongers, both in terms of who they sell to and the way in which they do business. Here we catch up with several certified Master Fishmongers to find out how they have been adapting to the new conditions.
We had challenges around supply at first but due to our vast network of suppliers we were able to switch between them to maintain supply, logistics has also been a challenge with limited deliveries. We lost 90% of our wholesale business with pubs and restaurants, which was 60% of our overall business! We have launched an online shop, this has proved to be really successful and we also offer a free home delivery service to supplement this.
We now limit customers to 2 in the shop at any one time, we are really strict with this and due to the size of the shop we are confident around social distancing. We also offer hand sanitiser at the point of sale.
We closed initially to the public for seven weeks concentrating on online deliveries across the UK and local deliveries. We have now reopened with screens and social distancing in place which was costly to do but much appreciated by our customers. Hopefully we will keep some of our new online customers and now the shop has reopened our local customers are returning.
Here at Stevenson Newlyn the shop has remained open run by a single member of staff since the beginning of the lockdown. We have served people one at a time using a barrier and contactless payment at the door, which has worked well, with people queuing well and observing the restrictions.
We have had a large increase in our fish by courier service, offering free delivery nationwide to your door and discount for the NHS. During lock-down we have also provided home delivery orders to vulnerable pensioners in the village. We have also ran competitions and incentives to keep people’s interest in fresh fish going during this awful time.
I worked from home for the first month as the phone for fish orders was ringing constantly and I am now back working at the shop with my daughter Lauren.
With fish counter closed, the lobster tank in mothballs and fishmongers tasked to the non-piscine. It’s a difficult time, but the show must go on!
My supposition is that our market has changed. The virus has resulted in a significant reduction of restaurant and catering trade. We must be more sympathetic to our increasing retail and small-medium sized business customers. Fishmongers must adapt to this shift. Better service, better quality and a greater range must ensue if such a market is to be serviced.
We are an attraction, an interest and a compliment; we must subsequently build on that. Now our audience has changed, the piscine proscenium must change, we must learn.
(the above are the personal views of David and not of Bookers)