range, red, pink, silver – a rainbow of colour greets customers at a busy seafood emporium.

Lobster, prawn, oyster, crab, trout, mackerel – a stunning spread of the sea’s harvest awaits visitors to Ramus in Ilkley’s South Hawksworth Street.

The show of underwater goodness is made all the more eye-catching by the striking, state-of-the-art curved display counter that extends across the shop, which opened two years ago.

At the helm of the company, managing director Jonathan Bachelor is passionate about his oceanic wares.

“Seafood is a very exciting, very sensual product – the look, smell and touch,” he says. “It is also very light, versatile and easy to cook – people have a great imagination when serving fish, more so than with any other product. They are prepared to try things that are more unusual, more adventurous.”

He adds: “We want people to feel that sense of excitement coming into the emporium, when they see the curved counter, and the fish shining – there are so many colours. A great deal of work went into the design for maximum effect.” The range of fish sold by Ramus Seafoods, whose first emporium opened in Harrogate in October, 2000, is vast. On any given day, around 50 varieties of fish are on display, from fresh lobster to Scottish salmon and Cornish Dover sole, to more exotic game fish including swordfish and marlin.

Special requests are catered for. “We buy fish from all over the world,” says Jonathan. “If someone says, I’d like ‘x’, then we will do our best to get it. Often, when people return from holiday in far-off locations they will ask for a fish that reminds them of their time there. We once sold a large sun fish, and we have bought live eels, and shark.”

Jonathan runs the company with his partner in the Harrogate-based business Tony Rushton. They took the reins a decade ago, forming a new company from the partnership of founders Chris and Liz Ramus, who gave invaluable support before retiring.

The business grew from humble beginnings, supplying Scottish lobsters to Harrogate hotels from the early 1970s, to the number one importer of live Canadian lobster throughout the Eighties, to its position today as the region’s top supplier to caterers and restauranteurs.

Tastings are held at both emporiums and at special outside events, for people to sample dishes including Ramus’s famous seafood platter, a cornucopia of fresh seafood on a plate – the perfect buffet centrepiece.

Special fish dishes – curries, risottos and stews – are also made up and sold in the emporium.

Sustainability is key to the business. Says Jonathan: “We use a lot of good-quality farmed fish, which is very much part of the future of the industry, and we buy from ‘day boats’ sailing off south-west Cornwall – fishermen who sail and land their catch within one day, so it is very fresh.”

Jonathan could not run this business and not be a fish lover. He has a broad palate, with a handful of favourites. “I’m a big fan of halibut and turbot, John Dory is very good, and gurnard is a lovely little fish. It is cheap, sustainable and healthy. And there is nothing better than fish and chips eaten out of newspaper.”

Cooking fish, Jonathan, stresses, is easy, and the company’s website offers dozens of recipe ideas. “People worry that they are going to undercook it, but what they should be worried about is overcooking it, which will dry it out. For a piece of turbot, two to three minutes in a hot pan is all you need.”