Twenty years ago Wright Brothers shucked their first oyster, today they’re possibly the biggest seafood supplier in the UK. We set sail to hear more.

It’s dark, it’s  -3°C, it’s an unbelievable 5 a.m., and I’m standing inside a giant freezer looking at a Hake full in its fishy face.

‘Very, very popular in Spain, a fantastic fish,’ says Andy, a dyed in the wall Londoner with an accent to match, who has worked here at Billingsgate Fish market for over 40 years, as he puts the hake back into the box with the rest of its shoal.

‘Now this,’ he says, plunging his bare hands into a pile of ice and coming back up with a dark mass,’ is a cuttlefish. Very sustainable, it’s very prolific in UK waters so it’s a non quota species. The dark ink is what top chefs use in pasta and risottos and it’s a cheap alternative to squid and just as good.’ 

Andy knows his fishy stuff, which is why he works for Wright Brothers. Once just two people selling a few top oysters out of a van to discerning London chefs, the Wrights today sell over a million oysters a year. The company is now also a major fish wholesaler and restaurant supplier, even as far as Beirut, Lebanon and the Bahamas, and this year, 2023, it’s celebrating twenty years in the business.

Today Wright Bros can sell £100K of seafood and fish each morning, with 27 lorries transporting their product nationwide. They also send out daily to 25-30 Michelin star chefs in London. All this sustainable fish can be traced by the chefs all the way back to the boat that caught it.

“Their orders must be in by midnight for us to deliver in time for lunch prep the next day’, explains Ben, one of the two founders along with his brother in law Robin, as we move outside into the shadow of Canary Wharf just as the first office workers begin to arrive across the oily black water.

As not many chefs today can break a fish down well and without waste and, as Ben points out, most kitchens no longer have the workspace,  Wright Bros do it for them.  Here in a chilled room off to the side their experts work with phenomenal speed and accuracy to prepare the fish perfectly. The colour coded, insanely sharp, knives flash in the harsh fluorescent light and perfect fillets fall to the chopping board. ‘Only a highly trained human can do this, it can’t be mechanised.’

The cutters’ day begins soon after midnight, once a fleet of lorries has delivered the previous day’s catch from day boats, mostly from Brixham, to Wright Bros’ Bay Number One. The orders are then prepped, packed and ready to go as fast as possible. The traffic build up after 6 a.m.can add precious hours to deliveries across London and that matters.

‘In the initial years we delivered it all ourselves and we learned the hard way that Michelin star chefs do not take kindly to deliveries five minutes late, or fish that is less than perfect. It’s a race against time every single night,’ explains Ben.

Back at the Wright Brothers Battersea restaurant, and over an Oyster Bloody Mary and a plate of incredible Lobster Benedict, Ben explains more. ‘‘We’re always thinking about the future and our mission now is to ‘Make Fish Great Again’, to get more of the UK public eating fish’. The brothers believe, and it’s hard not to disagree, that the UK fish industry is broken and needs fixing. ‘We need to get back the days of great fish and healthy oceans,’ says Ben.

Making getting hold of great fish easy is something the Wrights are very keen on and that’s why they now have ‘Wright Brothers at Home’, their unique home delivery service. ‘It’s a growing community of fish lovers,’ says Robin, ‘ one that appreciates quality fish as much as any top chef’.

And they’re putting fish back too. ’For every lobster or lobster meal we sell we donate to the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow who put 50,000 baby lobsters back into the ocean every year.’

‘We built our business on oysters, but there are fewer and fewer native oysters in our estuaries and inshore waters. So we’re also working with the Blue Ocean Foundation who are putting all our empty oyster shells back into the water to help reestablish oyster beds in the Solent, and we are also helping to finance fishermen, who have a very hard time making a living.’

So twenty years after driving around London in a small car delivering a few oysters, the Wright Brothers are now masters of UK seafood, serving it superbly in their restaurants and bringing it to discerning diners in Michelin starred restaurants, as well as direct to people’s homes.

So eat more fish, it’s good for you,  it’s good for the UK fishing industry and of course, it’s very good for the marvellous Wright Brothers.

Fresh Fish & Seafood Delivery, Online Fishmonger – Wright Brothers Home Delivery