Independent high street fishmongers are increasingly rare but Cranleigh’s High Street stands out from others because it has an independent fresh fish shop and residents want to keep it that way.
Celebrating 30 years in business this year, the family owned fishmongers buys fresh fish and seafood from the British coasts and Billingsgate market daily to ensure the best quality range and value.
As Steve Duffell, owner and manager, says, ‘Originally my father and uncle managed the business, but I now run and own the business with my father alone. As we got busier, my mother started helping in the shop. As she got on so well with customers and was so well liked, she soon joined the team full time!’
Unlike other High Street businesses suffering from the competition of online shopping online, Cranleigh Fish competes mainly with supermarkets. As a result, the Duffells aim to ensure that their service is better, and their product is fresher and more interesting than the national retailers.
It is obviously hard work, as Steve Duffell continues, ‘Five days a week, our day starts at 3am to travel to Billingsgate to buy the freshest and most seasonal product, returning to the shop to open up. This is the traditional way that fish was bought for hundreds of years but increasingly this has become a novel way to stock up and has given us a competitive edge.
Being a fishmonger has changed over the last 15 years. Steve says, ‘I am now a fishmonger, a chef and marine biologist all in one. We have learned to adapt and are more educated on the environmental implications, sustainability processing, cooking and fish well-being. And the industry is a lot better for it.’
Cranleigh Fish also sources additional specially requested product from the fish markets around the UK coasts, shipping them overnight to be delivered at 5.30am the next morning.
Steve says, ‘We recognised that many customers find selecting and cooking fish daunting. To help our customers we will recommend ways of cooking and preparation. We even have a selection of cookery books for customers to browse or borrow for inspiration and guidance. We also make our own fish pies, oven prepared fish dishes, dressed salmon and seafood platters.
And customers from near and afar agree, as one regular wrote in appreciation, ‘To my mind there is not a supermarket in the country that has the knowledge and expertise to match the father, mother and son team who own Cranleigh Fish. Every time I walk into their shop, I am excited by the presentation, quality and variety of fish for sale’.
Rosemary French, President of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce said, ‘Cranleigh is extremely fortunate to have a wet fish shop and I believe that it is one of the reasons that many incoming residents consider when making the decision to locate here. We congratulate the Duffell family on their anniversary and wish Cranleigh Fish every success over the next 30 years!’