A bitter war of words between two lookalike neighbouring fishmongers has sparked a verbal battering – with the older outlet accusing its new rival of copying its company.
Fish Universe in Tooting, south west
It claims it is trying to pass itself off as their nearly 20-year-old business and accused them of copying staff uniforms, sparking customer confusion.
Employees at Fish Universe used to wear blue suits with the company name and number on.
And now Fish World, which opened last month, are using exactly the same uniform, with identical font, for their staff.
It insists it has done nothing wrong and sells different Jamaican and African seafood and the only reason their outfits are blue are to match the colour of water.
Fuming Fish Universe have now splashed out to change all their staff uniforms to red, to make sure there is no confusion.
The unusual row sparked plenty of comments among community groups who spotted the disclaimer in the shop window.
One joked: ‘I can’t believe they have opened right next door. Very shellfish of them.’
Another added a comment laden with puns, declaring: ‘They probably love this plaice with their heart and sole. Does look and smell a bit fishy though, all the shops in the same roe.’
To make matters worse, warring businesses Fish Universe and Fish World are neighbours
Fish Universe owner Rafa Kashefi, 34, says his neighbours have copied his food business
But Fish Word’s Shaqib Hakim, 48, says his shop has done nothing wrong and is not a copy
Fish Universe has gone to the lengths to putting a disclaimer in its window against Fish World
Fish Universe owner Rafa Kashefi, 34, told MailOnline: ‘We have had about 60 calls from customers asking what is going on. Every day we get customers ask us what has happened.
‘Next door used to be a meat shop until they decided to start selling fish just a month ago.
‘This is the family business. My cousin started it 20 years ago when the first branch opened in Walthamstow- the next one to open was in Fulham and then we opened.
‘We now have other branches in Sutton, Camden, Croydon, Penge and Hounslow. They copied our design- they use the same light in their displays and they have copied the way we set out the displays.
‘We have had to change all our staff uniforms to red because they copied the blue one we had used for seven years. We have other branches all over London who all still use blue uniforms but we have had to change ours.
‘We work really hard to bring in customers but what they have done is just creating confusion. ’Some of our customers wonder if they are an extension of us because they are wearing our old uniform and everything is so similar.
’We have even had a couple of complaints about fish from there and had to say it was from next door. We are cheaper than them, we sell ten sea bass for £10 but they only sell seven sea bass for the same price.
‘We love the business and have wonderful customers. When we opened the shop there were not many others in the area. We started from scratch, initially didn’t make much money but pulled long days and worked really hard to build the business into what it is now.
Fish Universe claims Fish World copied these blue uniforms, but the rival denies wrongdoing
Fish Universe says it has been in business for nearly 20 years but claims it suffers from rival
Fish World says it is not trying to mimic its neighbours and says it is a completely different firm
‘In 2015 we faced competition from one business but they closed down six months later. They were not next door to us. ’They had complaints from the council and the place was a stink. But this is different, Fish World are copying us.
’The notice we have outside helps us. A lot of people have read it and have posted it on social media to warn others about Fish World.”
They have even posted a sign next to the front door warning punters they are a different shop to 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 shop.
‘In no event will we be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, arising out of the use of a Fish World service or product.
‘We are highly qualified fishmongers, and we are passionate about fish and the environment.
‘Fish Universe opened its doors in December 2014 with the ambition of bringing the freshest and best quality fish to our customers in Tooting.
‘We have stayed true to our core values, ensuring every single product we sell is the freshest, best quality available.
The two companies are in Tooting, South West London, and both feature blue branding
Fish Universe received a letter from Wandsworth Council over a flytipped fridge
Fish Universe claims Fish World flytipped the fridge, but it denies any wrongdoing over it
‘Fish World is not liable for any loss arisen from either the use of a Fish World product or service.
‘We are also not responsible for the accuracy of any information or advice given to you (by Fish World).’
They also say they were fined £400 by the council after they believe Fish World dumped a freezer on the street, but town hall bosses thought it belonged to Fish Universe.
They claim the council took no further action against Fish World.
Shaqib Hakim, 48, who works at Fish World and was managing today told MailOnline his business had done nothing wrong.
He added: ‘We are a different company with a different landlord.
‘We have different suppliers and a lot of our fish is Jamaican and African because people want that. They do not do any of that.
‘Our layout 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 colour is associated with the sea, and most fish shops are blue or yellow. Universe and World are not the same thing.
‘I do not need to address them or “rebutt” anything they have said- everyone has their own businesses. Our layout is different and we have different suppliers too.
‘We are trying to get more business because there is lots of demand for what we are doing. We also sell meat and groceries as well which they don’t.
‘Everyone has their own responsibilities and if the freezer belonged to us then we will answer for it and if we don’t, we won’t. We do not copy, our business is unique.’
But at least one Fish Universe customer today had been left confused by the two shops’ similar appearances.
He declined to be named but added: ‘It is wrong. We thought they were just an extension of this shop but it is not. It is shocking.’
Mr Kashefi is hoping that any confusion will be cleared up once and for all by the shop window disclaimer.
He added: ‘If we do not get the customers we may not be able to pay staff wages and it could have a big impact on our business.
‘We are worried about losing customers and don’t want to lose any. The whole situation is very stressful.
‘It is bad for our reputation if they do anything wrong and we are blamed for it.’
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