Islington People: Fishmonger Steve Hatt

For fishmonger Steve Hatt, running a renowned shop is not only a way of making a living, but part of a family tradition dating back to Victorian times.

Hatts Fish Shop in Essex Road, Islington, was opened in 1895 by Steve’s great-grandfather William Morris and the original sign still takes pride of place. William died in the 1920 flu epidemic leaving Steve’s dad, with whom he shared a name, to take on the reins.

Steve junior, now 59, was always destined to be part of the family business and started working there more than 40 years ago, taking it over from his dad, who had married into the Morris family, in 1985.

He said he never regretted following in his family’s footsteps, adding: “I’ve always enjoyed working here. It’s been a dedication to achieve very high standards and I’ve always found doing it very satisfying.”

And Steve has kept up the sterling reputation of the shop and remains popular in an age where supermarkets have spelled the decline for many businesses of his kind.

The recipe for success, he says, is “an absolutely iron control of stock.” He continued: “The quality of fish not only depends on where you buy it, but on the freshness as well. It’s the stock control that gives people confidence. And it’s the result of years of practice and discipline, nothing else.”

Steve has also given great emphasis to a friendly and professional service, hiring staff experienced in handling fish.

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He said: “The atmosphere is very good in the shop. The children like coming inside because they see live fish. We encourage children to pick up the lobsters and the staff even knows the children’s names”.

Steve added: “Supermarkets provide easy parking, easy access. I wouldn’t say they provide a service regarding fish. It’s the lesser of two evils: do we risk the quality for parking? Or do we leave parking for good quality?”