Sanford recently completed a total makeover of its iconic Auckland Fish Market. NZBusiness was at the launch and discovered a destination to rival other great fish markets around the world.
The decision was made around three years ago. The Auckland Fish Market in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter was a very special place, but it was looking somewhat drab and tired.
“It also wasn’t showcasing the best of what we can do, nor the best of New Zealand seafood,” explains Andre Garguilo, chief customer officer for Sanford, the market owner.
“We have an amazing variety of species that we fish in New Zealand waters and we believe our seafood is some of the best in the world. New Zealand deserved a place that could rival the other great fish markets in places like Sydney and Tokyo and that’s what we were committed to creating.”
Renovating and relaunching the Auckland Fish Market has been a major undertaking, with multiple challenges. But the final product, with its bustling, sustainably-stocked Sanford & Sons fishmongers, nine seafood-focused eateries (plus one still to come at time of writing) and its very own ‘watering hole’ (The Wreck) is impressive to say the least.
“The launch has more than met our expectations,” says Garguilo. “The response from the public has been fantastic. If you visit the Auckland Fish Market now you’ll need to make sure you arrive early for lunch to secure a table. Some days every single one of the 400 seats is full.
“We’re confident the new Fish Market will succeed; the proof is there already in the way the public has taken it to heart and the interest in Sanford and Sons, the fishmonger at the heart of the market.”
That’s the point of difference, he says. “It’s about the sea and the proximity to it and the beautiful seafood that we have on offer and that the eateries cook in their various ways, along with a multitude of other amazing dishes.”
Now that the whole market has been revitalised, the marketing efforts are being ramped up.
“For us it’s about showcasing the different species we have on offer and celebrating throughout the entire market,” explains Justine Powell, Sanford’s GM marketing and consumer.
“For example, in March we hosted Oyster Month, celebrating Bluff and other oysters. Plus we are working to showcase some of the lesser known species.
“Each eatery has a different offer so we can start to encourage people to break out of their comfort zone and eat types of fish they might not have considered before.
“At the Sanford & Sons fishmongers we have seafood experts on site who help customers choose the perfect fish for any dish and we can cut and prepare it any way customers like.
We have a 12 month long calendar of events planned, and we’ve also enlisted Annabel Langbein to help guide people in recreating fabulous seafood dishes at home.”
Managing our fish stocks
The Auckland Fish Market was officially opened on February 4th by the Minister of Fisheries, the honourable Stuart Nash, and the Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff, on the same day that new rules on commercial fishing were put up for discussion by the government.
Garguilo believes the New Zealand Quota Management System is very successful by global standards. “This does not mean it is perfect and there are some areas where we believe improvements can be made. But the bottom line is we can confidentially say that the mechanisms are in place to deliver a sustainable fishery and the work is being done every day by New Zealand fishers to make sure that happens,” he says.
“We welcome the work that the Government has begun recently with the release of the fisheries discussion document that seeks to address some of the challenges which still exist in the current system.
“We believe that an approach that seeks ongoing improvement is the best and we support using great science and working in a collaborative way to do this.”
There is still a lot of development work to come at the Auckland Fish Market. Powell mentions one more eatery and the opening of entrances directly onto Fish Lane.
“We will never rest on our laurels with the Auckland Fish Market and we will keep the new ideas coming,” she says, “with Tuesday night markets and weekend markets being developed.
“With Sanford & Sons, for example, there will be a seasonal focus around our offerings, reflecting what is fresh and best from the sea at any given time of year, as well as a subscription offer with Fresh Catch and ‘click and collect’ shopping.
“And above the market, the Auckland Fish Market Seafood School remains a great way for people to look, cook and learn more about the seafood on offer.”
It would appear that at last Auckland has a Fish Market it can justifiably be proud of.