South London’s Fish Wars are over as Tooting’s rival becomes a luggage shop


A war between two neighboring fishmongers with the same name in Tooting, south London, has finally come to an end – with the longest established business now victorious.

Fish Universe, which has been open for two decades, hit neighboring competitors Fish World after it opened in October last year.

He accused the new store of copying his business and uniforms, even putting a disclaimer in its window saying he was not affiliated with the booming business.

But now the high street battle is over after Fish World decided to shut down and become a luggage and bag store.

An index change was in the works after the warning disappeared last month.

And this morning there was no doubt that Fish World had sunk after a new sign of Albarakah Goods appeared, with a stock of bags and luggage.

Peace has even broken out between the owners, with the boss of Fish Universe wishing them luck in their new venture.

Manager Rafa Kashefi, 34, told MailOnline: ‘They realized they couldn’t continue with their fish shop so they turned it into a luggage store.

“It didn’t work out for them, I didn’t have any personal issues with them, but we worked really hard to grow our business so it was a bit boring to have another fish shop next door.

“I am grateful to them for switching stores and hope their new business is doing well.”

In November there were two rival fishmongers next to each other

Occasionally: Neighboring stores in November and today, with Fish World now gone

Fish Universe owner Rafa Kashefi, 34, wished the new luggage store well after his role change

Fish Universe owner Rafa Kashefi, 34, wished the new luggage store well after his role change

A local resident added: “As you walked past, you could see Universe was attracting a lot more customers.”

MailOnline told in November how the fish line had attracted huge attention.

The rivalry had even gone as far as the uniforms of the then competing fishmongers.

Fish Universe employees wore blue suits with the company name and number.

When Fish World opened in October, they used what appeared to be a very similar uniform for their staff.

At the time he insisted he had done nothing wrong and was selling different Jamaican and African seafood and the only reason their outfits were blue was to match the color some water.

Fish Universe decided to change all of their staff’s uniforms to red, to make sure there was no confusion.

And the unusual row drew widespread comment among community groups who spotted the disclaimer in the storefront.

One joked: ‘I can’t believe they opened next door. Very shellfish on their part.

At the end of March, the Fish Universe disclaimer went out of the window hinting that the change was on the way.

At the end of March, the Fish Universe disclaimer went out of the window hinting that the change was on the way.

Fish Universe had gone out of their way to put a disclaimer in their window against Fish World

Fish Universe had gone out of their way to put a disclaimer in their window against Fish World

Fish Universe claimed that Fish World copied these blue uniforms, but the rival denied this claim.

Fish Universe claimed that Fish World copied these blue uniforms, but the rival denied this claim.

Fish Universe Was In Business For Almost 20 Years, But Claimed It Was Suffering From A Rival

Fish Universe Was In Business For Almost 20 Years, But Claimed It Was Suffering From A Rival

Another added a pun-laden comment, saying, “They probably like this plaice with their heart and sole. Looks and smells a bit dodgy though, all stores in the same bud.

At the time, Mr Kashefi told MailOnline: ‘We have had around 60 calls from customers asking what is going on. Every day, customers ask us what happened.

“Next door used to be a meat shop until they decided to start selling fish just a month ago.

“It’s the family business. My cousin started 20 years ago when the first branch opened in Walthamstow – the next to open was in Fulham and then we opened.

“We now have other branches in Sutton, Camden, Croydon, Penge and Hounslow.

“We had to change all our staff uniforms to red. We have other branches all over London that still use blue uniforms, but we had to change ours.

“We are working very hard to attract customers, but what they have done is only confusing. “Some of our customers wonder if they’re an extension of us because they’re wearing our old uniform and everything is so similar.”

“We are cheaper than them, we sell ten bars for £10, but they only sell seven for the same price.

Fish World said it was not trying to imitate its neighbors and was a completely different business

Fish World said it was not trying to imitate its neighbors and was a completely different business

Both companies were in Tooting, south-west London, and both sport a blue brand

Both companies were in Tooting, south-west London, and both sport a blue brand

“We love the business and have wonderful customers. When we opened the store, there weren’t many others around. We started from scratch, we didn’t make a lot of money initially, but we worked long days and worked very hard to make the company what it is today.

“In 2015, we had to face competition from a company, but it closed six months later. They weren’t next to us. “They had council complaints and the place was a stench. But it’s different.

“The opinion we have outside helps us. Many people read it and posted it on social media.

The sign posted next to the front door warned punters that this was a different store than their next door neighbours.

The “Important Customer Announcement” reads: “Fish Universe is not associated with Fish World and does not promote, endorse or support this store.

‘In no event shall we be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, arising out of the use of any Fish World service or product.

“We are highly skilled fishmongers, passionate about fish and the environment.

‘Fish Universe opened in December 2014 with the ambition to bring the freshest and best quality fish to our customers in Tooting.

“We have stayed true to our core values, ensuring that every product we sell is the freshest and highest quality available.

‘Fish World is not responsible for any loss resulting from the use of any Fish World product or service.

“Nor are we responsible for the accuracy of any information or advice given to you (by Fish World).”

Fish World had insisted it had done nothing wrong with an employee saying in November: ‘We are a different company with a different owner.

“We have different suppliers and a lot of our fish is Jamaican and African because people want it. They don’t do any of that.

“Our disposition is different and we are trying to do something new and different from them. They think we are copying them, but we are not. We are not doing anything illegal.

“We are blue because the color is associated with the sea, and most fish shops are blue or yellow. Universe and World are not the same thing.

“I don’t need to address them or ‘refute’ everything they said – everyone has their own business.” Our layout is different and we also have different suppliers.

“We’re trying to get more business because there’s a lot of demand for what we do. We also sell meat and groceries, which they don’t.

“Everyone has their own responsibilities and if the freezer belonged to us, we would answer for it and if we don’t, we won’t. We do not copy, our profession is unique.’

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