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Lyme bay Seafood Company

Gutting, filleting, steaking and skinning – it’s all in a day’s work for Simon Baker.

The master fishmonger recently netted a £15,000 Start Up Loan from the British Business Bank via its partner SWIG Finance to help develop his Devon-based seafood business.

Simon, 51, who grew up in north-west London, developed a keen interest in fish from an early age, despite living miles from the sea.

When he was 14 years old, he would finish his paper round on a Saturday and then sit and watch the local fishmongers shop set up for the day.

He soon managed to get his first job there before life took him in a different direction and he went on to work in hospitality, retail and catering.

Despite a successful career working for big companies including Tesco, Simon just couldn’t shake off his love of all things seafood and decided to go back to the job he enjoyed all those years ago as a teenager.

He gave up his management role, trained as a master fishmonger and launched the Lyme Bay Seafood Company in 2021.

He recently applied for a Start Up Loan to help with the costs of kitting out his fish and smoke shed in Colyton, East Devon.

The money he received has been used to buy crucial pieces of equipment, including commercial fridge, freezer and ice-machine, plus the all-important ‘fish slab’ where the hard work happens.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Simon. “I’ve always loved anything to do with fish – I don’t know what the attraction was, really, I just got mesmerised by it all.”

Lyme Bay Seafood Company processes fresh fish and shellfish, bought directly from either the local fishermen and suppliers or from the two regional markets in Brixham and Plymouth. Simon, along with wife Monica, then prepares the fish at their processing unit in a variety of ways.

The seafood can then be bought directly from the unit or delivered to local customers.

“That’s the bit I enjoy a lot – the interaction with customers,” said Simon, who also relishes working for himself.

“Both my wife and I have worked for multinational companies or family-run businesses but now we’re in control of what we do. I would encourage other people at my stage in life who are thinking about starting a business to at least look into it,” added Simon.

“Often, it’s personal circumstances that prevent you from doing it. But it’s definitely never too late to change your career. It’s daunting at first, starting out on your own and thinking about things like loans but applying for Start Up Loan was relatively straightforward.”

Simon is hoping to boost his qualifications by working towards the advanced level of fishmonger training.

He’s also planning to recruit a full-time member of staff to help ease the workload, freeing him up to organise more of Lyme Bay Seafood Company’s popular demo events to encourage people to cook and eat more fish.

Published on 12 March 2024

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