The name Jaines is well known in and around the Grimsby fish markets as it has been going for more than 70 years.

Started as a herring business before the War, it was purchased after the War and, under the Allocation Scheme, operated with a half-box allocation, although it did manage to purchase extra unwanted fish from the auctions. Then they discovered a market for ray wing skate and eventually added catfish and dogfish.

In 1990, the company was purchased by its present owner, Chris Sparkes who explained, “I had been in the fish business since I was a lad. Indeed my great grandfather moved from Essex to Grimsby in 1895 and worked on the Greenland halibut boats while my father and brother who were both fishermen. I started as a barrow boy but worked my way up through various fish firms to factory manager and export manager. Then I decided I wanted to do my own thing and I started with one filleting tub and a cold box on the fish docks pontoon. The business built quite rapidly and soon I took space in a factory and built connections supplying well-known companies such as Youngs. We became specialists in ray wing skate and are now one of the largest suppliers in the country.”

Then, about fifteen years ago, the company moved to its own factory as the business continued to expand. Just three years later, Chris changed things again, bringing in Steve Little as director of sales. In the first year, the size of the business doubled and with the addition of Keith Holness doubled again over the next two years. As a result, the company is now planning a move to purpose-built premises in Grimsby. From its small beginning in 1990 with one employee and a turnover of £100,000, the company now employs approximately 30 people and in 2011 will be aiming for a turnover of around £8 million.

Back to Chris, “The business has changed dramatically and we now buy fresh fish from all over Europe and Scandinavia, from Iceland as well as from all parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland. We now offer more than 25 + different types of fish including halibut, cod, haddock, plaice, lemon sole, squid, brill turbot, salmon and of course skate. We also offer smoked fish, which is traditionally smoked in Grimsby by Atkinson’s who proudly boast PGI status. Diversity is our strength, coupled with the expertise and experience of our whole team. Today, we supply all across the UK and Ireland and export to mainland Europe and even to the Middle East.”

Local roots are vitally important to Chris. Working with the UK Sea Fish Authority, he started the Skate and Ray Producers Association of Great Britain. He is a great supporter of the Grimsby Fish Market and is currently Chairman of the Grimsby Fish Market Association, which celebrates its centenary in 2011. To mark this event, it has published an extremely interesting book – “Feeding the Nation”, written by Vincent McDonagh and with a foreword by David Ross. This is currently available from the Association, price £25.

For further information please telephone 01472 342003 or visit

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