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Take a trip down memory lane as family-run Perth fishmonger celebrates 150 years

Managing director of George Campbell & sons Iain Campbell is pictured alongside photos from the company archive.
Managing director of Perth fishmongers George Campbell & Sons Iain Campbell is pictured alongside photos from the company archive.

Passed down through four generations, fishmonger George Campbell & Sons is marking a century-and-a-half of business.

Managing director Iain Campbell and his wife Rachael have unearthed old photographs and newspaper cuttings while charting the company’s history.

First established by 33-year-old George Campbell in 1872 in the south side of Edinburgh, the fishmonger operated in the capital for over 100 years.

In the late 1980s, a branch was opened on the corner of Perth’s South Street and Scott Street.

By 2005, operations had moved to industrial units in Whitefriars Street, Perth, where they remain to this day.

Managing director Iain Campbell (right) pictured with other staff members outside the old Stafford Street Shop in Edinburgh.
Managing director Iain Campbell (right) pictured with other staff members outside the old Stafford Street Shop in Edinburgh.

Perth-based business

George Campbell & Sons is now based solely in Perth, with 8,000 square feet spread across eight units, employing 25 staff.

The company specialises in wholesale supply to the catering trade, from five-star hotels to cafes, bistros, schools and universities.

There is also a deli shop in Whitefriars Street offering up fresh and smoked fish as well as pies, quiches and soups, which are prepared on-site.

Iain, 63, says: “It was my great-grandfather who started the business – that was George. Then it was Tom, my grandfather, next my uncle Alastair ran it and then me. I’ve been there since 1977.

“My father, also Tom, wasn’t in it that much, he was a hotelier.”

Iain Campbell pictured many years ago with some produce for sale.
Iain Campbell pictured many years ago with some produce for sale.

Iain and his four siblings grew up in West Africa and attended boarding school in England. They returned to Scotland when he was a teenager and his father ran hotels, including the Bridge of Cally Hotel.

Iain goes on: “I used to work in the shop in Edinburgh during the holidays and became more and more involved with it.

“My uncle had retired so it wasn’t really going anywhere. I got involved and I enjoyed the fish trade.”

Still in his early 20s, Iain went off to work in Aberdeen and London to gain experience in fishmongering.

Looking to the future

While he’s not planning on retiring any time soon, he says none of his children are interested in taking over the business at present.

And the trade itself is dying out with fewer and fewer specialist fishmongers operating in towns and cities.

Long-serving fishmonger Scotty Wallace.
Long-serving fishmonger Scotty Wallace.

Iain reveals: “There are some good young people here in the management team. And we need people on the block cutting fish. We’ve had drivers we’ve moved on to the block.

“We’re quite proactive like that. We are constantly aware we need to be bringing young people into the trade.”

Meanwhile, there are also some well-known faces still working behind the fish counter. Scotty Wallace, for example, joined the company at the age of 16 and is now in his 50s.

150 years of business

Iain isn’t sure of the exact date his great-grandfather established the business, so they are having a year-long celebration.

A commemorative logo has been designed and printed on mugs and glasses. Staff are also wearing 150th anniversary fleeces and hats.

Iain pictured inside the deli shop.
Iain pictured inside the deli shop.

George Campbell’s ambition to supply the finest fresh fish, shell fish and smoked fish in Scotland has certainly been realised. So what’s been the secret to their success?

Iain explains: “What does set us apart a bit is that we are a family business and there is something quite special about one that has been around for so long.

“If I was to try and pick one set of parameters by which to conduct business it would be to be kind and courteous, honest and true, to your staff, customers and suppliers in equal measure and at all times.”


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