Seafood businesses adapting to Covid-19 impacts

Stories of UK seafood businesses that started or increased direct sales to consumers in response to Covid-19 impacts.

Direct sales from fishing businesses in Southeast England

In the south east of England, as across much of the UK, many local fishermen and their families were forced to explore new routes to market.

Fresh from the Boat

In Hampshire, Fresh from the Boat team Pete and Chantelle Williams saw an opportunity to increase the direct sales aspect of their business. They expanded beyond their existing mobile fish van, to include a new shop and small processing unit. Using grants from Fishmongers Company and Seafarers UK, they opened the new shop in July. They supplied the shop with line caught bass and other mixed fish caught using nets on their vessel, the Carly D, along with catches from other local fishermen.

We’ve been supporting as many local fishing businesses as possible through the Covid-19 crisis. We’ve also been able to support many families with affordable fish packages and free food boxes for those in need.
Chantelle Williams, Fresh from the Boat
Photo of the Fresh from the Boat team with Countryfile presenter Tom Heap
The Fresh from the Boat team with Countryfile presenter Tom Heap


James and Zoe Marshall who own and operate the vessel Bleak House, opened a new seafood retail outlet in Fareham. Their new business venture, Sea-licious, allows customers to order online. They then either pick up their locally sourced fish boxes or get them delivered to their doors. They source from other local vessels and markets as well as their own.

We are passionate about getting fresh fish straight from the fishing vessels to our local community and we’ve already seen a positive response to the business.
Zoe Marshall, Sea-licious
Photo of James Marshall from Sea-licious
James Marshall from Sea-licious

Fish boxes and ‘fakeaways’ fill gap from lost foodservice markets for Northern Ireland business

Belfast-based Keenan Seafood previously supplied a full range of fresh and frozen high-quality seafood to hotels, restaurants and contract catering outlets throughout Northern Ireland. 

As the foodservice sector was hit hard by the crisis, Keenan Seafood adapted their services to provide home delivery. They offered a range of frozen packages of fish and shellfish, including locally sourced Portavogie prawns. Their boxes come with cooking sauces and recipes to enable even novice home cooks to prepare tasty and nutritious meals during lockdown.

As supplies allowed, they have also provided other bespoke fish boxes, such as Fresh Battered “Fakeaway” boxes for those missing their Friday fish supper. Robert Shanks, Commercial Director said:

We’ve been adapting to demand, as people confined to their homes have become more interested in trying a range of seafood and improving their cookery skills.
Robert Shanks, Commercial Director at Keenan Seafood

Robert also confirmed that despite easing of lockdown restrictions, they are planning to continue these new products. They also plan to expand the ranges to include fresh as well as frozen seafood later in the year.

Photo of Keenan Seafoods worker preparing deliveries
Keenan Seafoods preparing deliveries

Family run fishmonger expands mail order service on Scotland’s west coast

CFayre in Largs were local shop with a small-scale online ordering service. Like many traditional fishmongers they had a good local customer base. Prior to lockdown, 90% of their trade came through the shop.

When the Covid-19 pandemic swept the UK, owner John Watson decided to close the shop and shift focus to online sales.  Immediately, John saw the demand for online sales take off, with new interest in online sales and home deliveries far outstripping their normal shop sales. So much so, that the small family team initially struggled to keep up with the surge in demand.

With a huge effort, working long hours and putting in more effort per sale, they were able to successfully adapt their operation. While working to meet heightened online demand, they also worked hard to adapt the shop. After seven weeks they reopened with safe physical distancing, contactless payment and branded high visibility screens to keep customers and staff safe.

John confirmed that customers liked the new shop set up and sales remained good as lockdown began to ease. He noted that although online orders fell back as lockdown measures began to ease, they remained more than double what they were before. He also suggested that customer behaviours may have changed for good. 

One thing is for sure, both customers and staff feel more comfortable with our new screens, so we’ll be keeping them in place. We’re selling more fish now than before the pandemic. We’re not sure whether that’s because customers have discovered us, moved away from supermarkets for their fish or are simply appreciating the quality of Scottish fish, but it’s been very positive.
John Watson, owner of CFayre
Photo of the team from CFayre
The team from CFayre

Read more about Covid-19 impacts


For more information contact:

Ana Witteveen
0131 524 8659
07815 428 554