December 5, 2020

South Yorkshire fish merchant works overtime to support local busineses

A Doncaster fish merchant is working overtime to meet demand from fish and chips shops across the North of England as lockdown restrictions are eased, with support from Lloyds Bank. The majority of Warners Fish Merchants’ customers, which include fish and chip shops, restaurants and catering businesses, closed their doors when the government-mandated lockdown came into force on 23rd March.

In response, the-family run business made the difficult decision to furlough a proportion of its workforce and introduced contactless drop offs and cashless payments to ensure staff could continue to serve customers operating as delivery only.

Now, following the easing of lockdown measures, more of Warners Fish Merchants’ customers are reopening on a daily basis with social distancing measures in place. Demand is quickly returning to normal levels, putting pressure on the firm’s cashflow after weeks of reduced service.

The business turned to long-time banking partner Lloyds Bank for support. It provided a £1.5m loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). With pressure on its cashflow eased, the fish merchant can pay its suppliers, bring back staff and respond to the spike in customer demand quickly.

Warners Fish Merchants was founded in 1941 by World War II veteran Albert Warner. Since then, it has grown from a wet fish and fruit shop in Doncaster Market into the leading importer of Icelandic frozen-at-sea haddock and cod in the UK. The business is owned and operated by Albert’s grandson, Gary Warner, and his children, and serves more than 10 per cent of the UK’s fish and chip shops.

Gary said: “We’ve worked hand in hand with the fish and chip industry for more than 60 years now and have been blown away by the resilience and determination of our customers during such an unprecedented time.

“We take our position in the supply chains of many small, independent businesses very seriously. It was incredibly rewarding to continue supplying shops that made the decision to stay open during lockdown safely.

“Now we need to move quickly to get stock out to customers that are back in business and eager to take advantage of customer demand. The support from Lloyds Bank has given us the financial firepower we need to do this and continue supporting local economies across the North.”

Mark Butterworth, relationship director at Lloyds Bank, added: “Warner Fish Merchants is a lynchpin of Yorkshire and the rest of the North of England’s catering industry. The loan we’ve provided will help Gary and the team continue to support its customers and the communities they serve as the restrictions on businesses enter a new phase.”