Grimsby fishmonger travels to Essex to sell fish

Ian McClean in High Street, Epping

Ian McClean in High Street, Epping

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter - Epping Forest

An award winning fishmonger travels 175 miles every Monday to sell fish in Essex.

Ian McClean 58, runs Clainy’s Ltd, a mobile fish stall, and feels he has made a success of his business through offering quality, reliability and punctuality.

Mr McClean’s week starts 4.30am on Monday when he goes Grimsby docks to purchase fish from the boats in an auction.

He arrives in Epping at around 10am having already sold fish around west Essex on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning after which he receives a fresh delivery of fish from Grimsby.

He then sells fish door to door in and around Epping Forest before heading back home on Wednesday selling any remaining fish to selection of pubs along the way.

His van stops next to Church’s Butchers in High Street, Epping, on Tuesdays and the business won The Guardian's Fish Stall Food Award this year.

He has resisted getting a shop because he sees the mobility of his business as essential for trade.

He said: “I avoid all the overheads and I can visit customers who can’t get to me.

“A lot of people won’t want to come out in bad weather so I go to them and I haven’t missed a day yet.”

The Grimsby resident found himself trading in Epping after swapping ‘rounds’ with a friend so they could be closer to home.

The fishmonger now sees around 50 regular customers in Epping each week, some of whom have been with him since he started three and a half years ago.

The half tonne of 40 different varieties of fish sold from his van are no older than three days with the majority sourced from the North Sea, Iceland and Norway.

Mr McClean refuses to buy cheaper less fresh fish for cheaper prices and feels that principle is one of the reasons for his business surviving for the past 24 years.

He said: “I won’t compromise on freshness. I’ll always get the fish first off the boat which is the last to be caught.

“My focus is on customers who want high quality fish every time they come to me.”

In summer Salmon is a best seller as well as swordfish and tuna which are more popular on barbeques whereas cod and haddock sell better in winter.

The early rising businessman allows himself a day off on Friday when, among other things, aims to improve his golf handicap or, if he’s not had enough of his finned friends, enjoys a day’s coarse fishing.

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